James Webb Telescope Launch is Successful

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The James Webb space telescope successfully launched into the vastness of space Christmas day this year. This journey was long in the making, beginning back in 1996 when the telescope was first conceived by NASA. The shuttle transporting Webb took off at 12:20am UTC in French Ghana and the telescope is now on its way to becoming the successor to the Hubble. The initial live stream on YouTube ran for 2 hours and 17 minutes, allowing people around the globe to watch the journey unfold in real time. Webb will travel 100 million miles into orbit, taking approximately 29 days to reach its intended target, but will not be officially declared fully operational until approximately 180 days after the launch. Multiple attempts to launch have happened in the last few years, but with equipment delays, storms, and the ongoing pandemic, it was postponed several times. But all that waiting has finally paid off and the telescope is now on its way into orbit. The next step, which will take over six months, will be gradually unfolding the telescope’s massive mirrors, which are each the size of several football fields. Following that is aligning the mirrors and cooling them to an immensely cold -380°F.

Lenox Laser was directly involved in manufacturing components for the Webb, providing precise alignment targets for the infrared imaging system to assist with the readings it takes while scanning for the innermost secrets of our universe. You can read about other NASA projects we have been involved in on our blog. It has been an immense honor for us to be part of such an important scientific endeavor. The telescope is 100 times more powerful than Hubble and is expected to take on the task of filling in missing pieces of the Big Bang mystery that have eluded scientists for many years.

Webb marks the largest telescope ever put in space, being roughly the size of a large truck at 43.5 feet long and 14.2 feet in diameter, and cost of over $10 billion to construct. Scientists are looking at the 344 mechanisms on board the telescope as potentially 344 points of failure, meaning that each of them must strike the right balance in the first attempt, with no chance at sending repair crews to the telescope if a fault occurs. Everyone on the team at NASA are optimistic that deployment will be successful however, and with any hope the James Webb Space Telescope will revolutionize our understanding of the universe, giving us viewpoints never before possible.

Visit NASA’s website for more information and to keep up with all the latest updates on this monumental journey.

NASA Chief discusses the James Webb Telescope after launch

James Webb Space Telescope Final Tests

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Courtesy of NASA

               Since its creation in 1996, the James Webb telescope has been a monolithic-sized project in scope and scale. The telescopes’ purpose is in-depth investigations of stars and galaxies, not only studying them but going deep inside them and studying them. This could potentially help scientists map the stars and planets. Webb is expected to be the world’s premier space observatory. Once fully operational and tested, the telescope is expected to launch into space on October 31st of this year. James Webb has some last-minute functionality tests to complete but once done, it will be 100% ready for launch on Halloween.

The project has passed many tests and milestones in recent months and years that ensure prospects become a reality. In December 2020, completed environmental testing of its sunshield deployments, to replacing turntables in 2019, the James Webb telescope’s build was completed in 2016. Testing and adjustments have been ongoing ever since. Webb completed a fully functional crown test of all its instruments in August of last year. It is not yet known exactly where in space the telescope will be launched when it finally happens. It is the definitive predecessor to the Hubble telescope. With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, scientists and engineers are taking every precaution possible during final preparations for launch. So far, James Webb’s team has confirmed that the telescope is sound enough to survive the rigorous tensions of the upcoming launch the satellite will experience.

To see a detailed timeline of the telescope, please click here.

James Webb Sunshield Passes Final Tests

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               When completed, the famous James Webb telescope will be the world’s premier observatory for exploring galaxies. Webb will explore our galaxy’s makeup and beyond, studying inside stars and help map and explore undiscovered, uncharted areas of our solar system and universe.

However, the telescope’s most recent achievement is the final deployment test of its massive football-field-sized sunshield. It is designed to handle the harshest temperatures in space, enduring temperatures of -380°F to 85°F. The sunshield is intended to protect the telescope optics and internal mechanisms while keeping them cold while exploring galaxy and star readings properly.

Courtesy of NASA/Chris Gunn

               The sunshield’s successful unfolding completes Webb’s final tremendous milestone before the expected October 2021 launch. Altogether the telescope is costing NASA an estimated $10 billion, with potentially higher costs coming if any further delays happen. Not only will the sunshield protect Webb’s many internal optics from the sun’s heat, but it will also protect them from the light, which could help avoid potentially false readings upon exploration. Past tests included folding and unfolding the telescope’s many massively sized mirrors, tests of its optics, the sunshield tests, and interior and exterior components.

               The teams involved in creating James Webb were scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. Partnerships were also formed with Northrop Grumman, who helped design some onboard computers and the telescope. Thus far, everyone is extremely pleased with the progress made, and they cannot wait to see the outcome of all the hard work done for the project. However, the James Webb project has faced many hurdles and delays in its continuous journey towards a successful launch. Some of those delays include government funding, the most recent Covid-19 pandemic, equipment malfunction, and multiple ongoing tests that were postponed. Barring any other unforeseen circumstances or uncertainties, the James Webb telescope mission is expected to launch Halloween 2021. We cannot wait to see what the future holds for the project.

If you would like to read more about this development with James Webb, please click here.

James Webb Telescope 2021 Update

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The James Webb telescope is a hopeful key in unlocking the mystery and changing humankind’s
understanding of what’s beyond our Earth forever. The Hubble telescope proceeded James Webb launching in 1990 James Webb cost an astronomical $10 billion to build.

Picture courtesy of NASA

It is predicted that we are given glimpses into the past of around 13 ½ billion years by using infrared light to
measure and study galaxies within galaxies per se. The quality of the satellite images is not just dependent on
technology inside the telescope, but also the size of its mirrors as they determine just how much detail the
satellite can see in. James Webb weighs 6 tons with a massive 21-foot mirror altogether. A small team has
resumed small portions of operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Webb can find and measure baby
galaxies, which will hopefully give scientists a galaxy map with the level of detail that has never been seen
before.

This massive project was started in the hopes of studying the origins of our universe. Using infrared
technology and the light collected from years, for example, may give a status such as when the star began,
and why it became the size it is in so much more detail than ever thought possible.

With the telescope’s technology in the palm of our hand, we will now be able to see stars that may be billions
of years old. The future of space study has never looked brighter. It is believed that this project will enhance
astronomy to new heights.