The development of the huge James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will replace the NASA’s Hubble, is going very well and it is expected to be launched in October 2018 on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana, NASA says. Engineers are already assembling its main mirrored surface and a swift development will continue in the next months.

NASA’s JWST deputy project manager, John Durning, said to BBC that the progress of the JWST is going “tremendously well”. He explained that the team lead by the NASA has eight months of reserve and they have consumed one month with several activities, and added that he thinks the work they have done in the last year has been very helpful.

Scientists working on the James Webb Space Telescope. Photo: NASA
Scientists working on the James Webb Space Telescope. Photo: NASA

“JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System,” wrote the NASA in the official webpage of the telescope. “JWST’s biggest feature is a tennis court sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times.”

The James Webb Space Telescope will be equipped with a mirror that has a diameter of 21 feet, which will provide the researchers the opportunity of analyzing very ancient objects located in the universe, since it will offer seven times more light-collecting area than the Hubble, BBC explained.

The Webb will finally cost the NASA about $8.835 billion and it is expected to operate for about 10 years. That being said, once the telescope gets very far from Earth, it won’t be repairable if an issue occurs. As a response, the space agency is being extremely cautious about its development.

According to crew chief David Sime, who works on the assembling of the Webb, the team has to use white suits that cover all their bodies except for their eyes, said NPR. The assembly process of the Webb is very complex and large books of instructions are needed in order to assemble every single mirror of the telescope. Sime said that every time that the team builds a bigger or a better piece of equipment, they find something astonishing.

The construction of the large infrared telescope is being achieved with a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

Source: BBC News