Science & Technology

NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Arrives at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana

After the custom-built transport container carrying Webb is unloaded from the MN Colibri, Webb can be transported to its launch web site, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Credit score: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope efficiently arrived in French Guiana Tuesday (October 12, 2021), after a 16-day journey at sea. The 5,800-mile voyage took Webb from California by the Panama Canal to Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America.

The world’s largest and most advanced area science observatory will now be pushed to its launch web site, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, the place it can start two months of operational preparations earlier than its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket, scheduled for December 18.

As soon as operational, Webb will reveal insights about all phases of cosmic historical past – again to simply after the large bang – and can assist seek for indicators of potential habitability among the many hundreds of exoplanets scientists have found in current years. The mission is a global collaboration led by NASA, in partnership with the European and Canadian area companies.

“The James Webb Space Telescope is a colossal achievement, constructed to remodel our view of the universe and ship wonderful science,” mentioned NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson. “Webb will look again over 13 billion years to the sunshine created simply after the large bang, with the ability to indicate humanity the farthest reaches of area that now we have ever seen. We are actually very near unlocking mysteries of the cosmos, because of the talents and experience of our phenomenal group.”

The MN Colibri arrived Oct. 12 at Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana, carrying NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as cargo. Credit score: NASA/Chris Gunn

After finishing testing in August at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park in Redondo Seashore, California, the Webb group spent almost a month folding, stowing, and making ready the large observatory for cargo to South America. Webb was shipped in a custom-built, environmentally controlled container.

Late in the night of Friday, September 24, Webb traveled with a police escort 26 miles by the streets of Los Angeles, from Northrop Grumman’s facility in Redondo Seashore to Naval Weapons Station Seal Seashore. There, it was loaded onto the MN Colibri, a French-flagged cargo ship that has beforehand transported satellites and spaceflight {hardware} to Kourou. The MN Colibri departed Seal Seashore Sunday, September 26 and entered the Panama Canal Tuesday, October 5 on its strategy to Kourou.

The ocean journey represented the ultimate leg of Webb’s lengthy, earthbound travels through the years. The telescope was assembled at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Heart in Greenbelt, Maryland, beginning in 2013. In 2017, it was shipped to NASA’s Johnson Space Heart in Houston for cryogenic testing at the historic “Chamber A” check facility, well-known for its use throughout the Apollo missions. In 2018, Webb shipped to Space Park in California, the place for 3 years it underwent rigorous testing to make sure its readiness for operations in the surroundings of area.

“A proficient group throughout America, Canada, and Europe labored collectively to construct this extremely advanced observatory. It’s an unbelievable problem – and really a lot worthwhile. We’re going to see issues in the universe past what we will even think about immediately,” mentioned Thomas Zurbuchen, affiliate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Now that Webb has arrived in Kourou, we’re getting it prepared for launch in December – after which we’ll watch in suspense over the subsequent few weeks and months as we launch and prepared the biggest area telescope ever constructed.”

After Webb is faraway from its transport container, engineers will run closing checks on the observatory’s situation. Webb will then be configured for flight, which incorporates loading the spacecraft with propellants, earlier than Webb is mounted on prime of the rocket and enclosed in the fairing for launch.

“Webb’s arrival at the launch web site is a momentous event,” mentioned Gregory Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters. “We’re very excited to lastly ship the world’s subsequent nice observatory into deep area. Webb has crossed the nation and traveled by sea. Now it can take its final journey by rocket a million miles from Earth, to seize beautiful pictures of the primary galaxies in the early universe which are sure to remodel our understanding of our place in the cosmos.”

For extra on this story, learn $10 Billion Webb Space Telescope Arrives at Europe’s Spaceport.

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