NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Passes Key Review Ahead of Fall Launch
NASA’s next big space telescope just took a big step forward toward its planned launch this fall. From a report: The $9.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope mission has passed a key launch review, keeping it on track to lift off atop an Ariane 5 rocket before the end of the year, European Space Agency (ESA) officials announced last week. “This major milestone, carried out with Arianespace, the Webb launch service provider, confirms that Ariane 5, the Webb spacecraft and the flight plan are set for launch,” ESA officials wrote in a July 1 update. “It also specifically provides the final confirmation that all aspects of the launch vehicle and spacecraft are fully compatible.”

While Webb is primarily a NASA mission, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) are important partners. The CSA is providing the telescope’s guidance sensor and one of its scientific instruments. ESA is contributing some science gear to the mission as well and is also providing launch services, procuring the Ariane 5 heavy lifter to get Webb off the ground. The launch will take place from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. Mission teams are working toward a launch readiness date of Oct. 31, but liftoff is not expected to actually take place on Halloween. “The precise launch date following 31 October depends on the spaceport’s launch schedule and will be finalized closer to the launch readiness date,” ESA officials wrote in the same statement.

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