James Webb, the Largest-Ever Space Telescope, to Be Launched on Christmas Eve; Rocket Mounting Complete


James Webb Space Telescope, the largest space telescope ever and the most noteworthy after Hubble, has been placed atop the Ariane 5, the rocket which will launch it to space from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The James Webb Space Telescope has been designed to find answers to outstanding questions about the universe and for other breakthrough discoveries in the field of astronomy. It is set to be launched on December 24, but not earlier than that, as per NASA.

On Thursday, December 16, the European Space Agency (ESA) posted on Instagram a series of photos showing how the James Webb telescope was placed on the top of the Ariane 5 rocket. Once the telescope was brought into the final assembly building, it was lifted slowly for about 40m before being manoeuvred on top of the rocket. The technicians then bolted the telescope’s launch vehicle adapter down to the rocket. 

The ESA said the entire process was performed following all the safety and cleanliness regulations, adding that it was one of the most delicate operations as far as the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope is concerned.

“A ‘shower curtain’ about 12m high and 8m in diameter was installed in between two platforms, to create a closed-off space around Webb to avoid any contamination,” the space agency explained.

The next step will now entail the encapsulation of the telescope inside Ariane 5’s specially adapted fairing. The telescope is set to launch no earlier than December 24 to allow teams to work on a communications issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system.

The James Webb Space Telescope, an international partnership between NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), is not just the largest but also the most powerful telescope ever to be launched into space. The ESA is providing the launch service to the telescope as part of the international agreement.

Alongside its partners, the ESA was tasked with developing and preparing Ariane 5 adaptations for the mission. Apart from that, the space agency was also responsible for the procurement of the launch service by Arianespace.