The most expensive space telescope has been successfully launched into space

space telescope

An Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope on board. Photo: Jodi Amit/AFP/DPA

(Photo: dpa)

With the James Webb Space Telescope, jointly built with space agencies in Europe, the USA and Canada The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), jointly built with space agencies in Europe, the USA and Canada, aims to explore the oldest galaxies in space. It took off from the European Space Station Kourou in French Guiana aboard the Ariane launch vehicle. The flight to the target orbit, which is about 1.5 million kilometers away, takes about four weeks.

Scientists hope that images from the James Webb Telescope will provide information about the early period after the Big Bang, about 13.8 billion years ago, among other things. The immediate environment of the Earth in our solar system must also be examined. Web records should show, for example, whether there are habitable planets with water resources.

The first data and images from the telescope are not expected until summer at the earliest. At the beginning of the mission, NASA identified 344 critical points that threaten the planned use of the telescope.

“On board this rocket are the hopes and dreams of tens of thousands of scientists who will benefit from the results of this mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s director of science, a few minutes before the start. “We’ve never seen the universe the way Webb would show us.”

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The ten-year mission

According to the operator, the James Webb Telescope was developed for about 30 years and cost about 10 billion dollars (8.8 billion euros). It exceeds the capabilities of the well-known Hubble telescope several times. Among other things, Webb is supposed to use a 25-square-meter mirror to present images from the early universe. The task was set for ten years.

The previous method of telescoping was accompanied by problems. The trade magazine Nature wrote about “the most expensive astronomical risk in history.” The idea for this telescope first appeared at the end of the 1980s, and planning and construction have continued since then. Time and time again, minor accidents occurred, planning was delayed, and costs originally estimated at $500 million. JWST was originally supposed to start in 2007 – but the start has always been postponed.

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