NASA, Northrop Complete Webb Telescope’s Final Testing Regimen

1 min read

NASA and Northrop Grumman engineers have completed the final testing phase for the James Webb Space Telescope and are preparing to ship the new observatory to a launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.

Cleanroom technicians are working to ensure JWST hardware will arrive safely at the launch pad location on the northeastern coast of South America, the space agency said Thursday.

The launch processing team will configure the spacecraft upon its arrival, conduct post-shipment checkouts, load the propellant tanks and remove the protective covers prior to its flight schedule.

Engineering teams will then work on integrating the observatory to an Ariane 5 rocket from the European Space Agency.

“To me, launching Webb will be a significant life event—I’ll be elated of course when this is successful, but it will also be a time of deep personal introspection,” said Mark Voyton, Webb observatory integration and test manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who spent 20 years helping in the spacecraft’s development.

The agency expects JWST to separate from the rocket approximately 26 minutes after liftoff and automatically deploy the spacecraft's solar array.

JWST will be subject to a six-month commissioning period after the launch phase is completed.

NASA looks to expand Hubble Space Telescope discoveries through Webb’s space mission, which could last for five to 10 years. The new observatory is an international effort headed by NASA in collaboration with its European and Canadian counterparts.

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