All eyes are officially on our solar system - literally. After a series of trial and error, NASA recently made history by completing the launch of its latest program: a 21-foot space telescope, situated among the skies. From its risky installment to its record-breaking features, here's what to know about the multi-billion dollar project.
On Saturday, January 8, NASA, along with the help of both the European and Canadian Space Agencies, first revealed the big news: “Today, NASA achieved another engineering milestone decades in the making," NASA's Administrator Bill Nelson announced. "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." Safe to say, the spacecraft's deployment was a long time in the making...
"It’s a team that has struggled over time, but look at the amazing perfection that they achieved," NASA's Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen reflected. Spanning about 21-feet, the gold-coated primary mirror called for meticulous attention to detail as devoted researchers prepared its final stages. "The sun shield is one of the most complicated things we’ve put in space, and necessarily so," NASA’s Jane Rigby recalled of installing the telescope's 70-foot feature. Sure enough, after endless hours perfecting the craft, December 25 marked a major step forward: on Christmas day, James Webb was finally ready for liftoff.
Mirror, mirror…is deployed. @NASAWebb has taken on its final form. For the next ~6 months, the space telescope will cool down, calibrate its instruments, and prepare to #UnfoldTheUniverse.— NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2022
What cosmic mysteries will it unveil? Stay tuned: https://t.co/cnYZzdHUlt pic.twitter.com/ykhfJeJpk5
Since its launch, the $10 billion project has been eyed carefully as it began to carry out each of its planned steps. And on January 8, the mirror's expansive wings finally completed unfolding and locked into place. And now? It's go time. "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," Bill Nelson proudly explained. "Each feat already achieved and future accomplishment is a testament to the thousands of innovators who poured their life’s passion into this mission." That being said, stay tuned. Who knows what awaits James Webb while it scours the infinite skies above?