NASA's James Webb Space Telescope reaches final destination nearly a million miles from...

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,033   +150
Staff member
Why it matters: The James Webb Space Telescope has arrived at its target orbit point around the second Sun-Earth Lagrange point, also known as L2, nearly a million miles from Earth. The observation fired its onboard thrusters for nearly five minutes on Tuesday to complete its final post-launch course correction. NASA said the burn inserted Webb toward its final orbit, adding only 3.6 miles per hour to its speed.

NASA will spend the next several months waiting for Webb to cool down. During this period, engineers will also begin the process of aligning the telescopes optics to “nearly nanometer precision.”

It was a long and winding road to get to this point. The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope started taking shape in the mid-1990s but was plagued by cost overruns and delays.

"Webb, welcome home!" said NASA administrator Bill Nelson. "Congratulations to the team for all of their hard work ensuring Webb’s safe arrival at L2 today. We’re one step closer to uncovering the mysteries of the universe."

More hurdles needed clearing once the telescope made it to space as hundreds of risky post-launch deployments had to be performed perfectly. If anything went wrong, it could have been disastrous as the scope isn't serviceable in space. Fortunately, everything up to this point has worked masterfully. The observatory is now fully deployed, and NASA even managed to use less propellant than anticipated, which will extend the scope's mission duration beyond the original plan of 10 years.

Once the mirrors are properly calibrated and all other science instruments have been activated, Webb should return its first images sometime this summer.

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NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 371   +651
I think it’s most amazing accomplishment so far has been making it past all the “space-junk” in earth’s orbit. The rest is just a walk in the park.
 

CBTex

Posts: 144   +291
"first images sometime this summer." The wait is killer, but congrats to NASA on a great job so far.
 

BadThad

Posts: 994   +1,123
An amazing feat by mankind! This JWST is one of man's crowning achievements and will open new doors into science. These space telescope projects need to keep coming!
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 2,104   +2,512
TechSpot Elite
Looks like all the delays to re-check everything for the nth time were worth it. Honestly I'm a little surprised by the generally positive response to it in all media (well, I dunno about mass media as I avoid that completely). For so many other things, people get hung up on the cost but it seems with how things are in general, a lot of people (including an entire new generation since Hubble went up aaand got it's contact lenses) just want something super cool and interesting to look forward to.

Super cool is not a pun, that was your brain making it up.
 

Eversong

Posts: 9   +4
I think it’s most amazing accomplishment so far has been making it past all the “space-junk” in earth’s orbit. The rest is just a walk in the park.
It sure helps to have no clue how payload is delivered through the atmosphere and lower orbit, live in one's own dystopian reality on Earth with Kessler syndrome, and completely disregard the fact there are no brakes in space, you can't "reach" the destination, it's constant WIP to stay around the Lagrange point for the entirety of the mission.
Kinda in the same ballpark "we aint know no math, give us cameras to observe the sunshield deployment," dumb reason to make an article yet everyone posted it.