NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has successfully completed its complex deployment sequence and is ready to begin focusing. The telescope, which is the successor to the Hubble Telescope, was launched on Christmas Day packed in the nose cone of a rocket.
Since then, engineers have been remotely unpacking the telescope. The final step of the process involved unpacking and positioning the massive hexagonal segments of the telescope’s primary mirror.
Now, the engineering team will begin the month’s long process of aligning and calibrating the mirrors. In addition, the $10 billion telescope will make several course correction burns so it can reach the second Lagrange point, putting in orbit nearly one million miles from Earth. It will also deploy a sun shield to protect it from the light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon.
It is expected to be fully operational this summer and will beam back some of the most detailed images from across our solar system and galaxy.
“Today, NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making. While the journey is not complete, I join the Webb team in breathing a little easier and imagining the future breakthroughs bound to inspire the world,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “The James Webb Space Telescope is an unprecedented mission that is on the precipice of seeing the light from the first galaxies and discovering the mysteries of our universe. Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission.”