Science

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope fully assembled

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope fully assembled”

Engineers have finally assembled NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble observatory. This work involved connecting two halves of the telescope, a process that required lifting the part of the telescope featuring the instruments and mirrors and placing it on the spacecraft and sunshield. Team members slowly guided the telescope into place, ensuring that all primary points of contact were perfectly aligned and seated properly.

The craft's two halves were then attached manually but technicians have yet to hook up all of the electronics.

The JWST can be regarded as the spacecraft to take over the Hubble Space Telescope, but the wait has been prolonged by inevitable delays, such as technical problems and monetary constraints.

"The assembly of the telescope and its scientific instruments, sunshield and the spacecraft into one observatory represents an incredible achievement by the entire Webb team", Webb project manager Bill Ochs, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. This sunshield is created to keep Webb's mirrors and scientific instruments cold by blocking infrared light from the Earth, moon, or sun.

Since the mission hinges on the heat shield being able to deploy - and deploy in the correct shape - NASA wants to test its functionality on the assembled craft as quickly as possible.

Both major components of the telescope have been individually tested through all the environments that they would encounter during its time in the rocket and it will be orbiting a million miles away from Earth. Now, after countless mistakes from contractor Northrop Grumman, the total bill will likely exceed $10 billion, and even if it's ready to go by 2021, that's still almost a decade and a half behind schedule. NASA claims that it will be world's premier space science observatory and solve mysteries that are in our solar system. Webb is an worldwide project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.



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