NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope receives power for launch on December 22

The James Webb Space Telescope is powered up and getting ready for launch. (Image credit: ESA / CNES / Arianespace)

The new James Webb Space Telescope is complete and one step closer to take off.

Members of the mission team have finished feeding the James Webb Space Telescope in advance of its scheduled launch on December 22 from the Guyanese Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, the European Space Agency announced Monday (December 6). Webb’s refueling, which is an international collaborative effort between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, lasted 10 days and ended on December 3, according to the ESA statement.

After a series of delays since the start of scope development in 1996, Webb is still on track to finally launch on December 22 on top of an Ariane 5 rocket from Arianespace from the Guyanese Space Center in Kourou, Guyana. French.

“Webb’s propellant tanks were filled separately with [21 gallons] 79.5 l of nitrogen tetroxide oxidizer and [42 gallons] 159 l of hydrazine, “ESA wrote in the announcement, adding that the oxidizer” improves the combustion efficiency of hydrazine fuel. “

Related: Construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (gallery)

Now that Webb is powered up, the mission team will begin “combined operations,” the statement said. In this phase, the teams behind the rocket and telescope will come together to mount Webb on the Ariane 5 rocket and encapsulate it in the rocket shroud. The newly joined pair will then be moved to the final assembly building for final preparations before take off.

Once successfully launched and into space, Webb will initiate a complicated series of deployment maneuvers to deploy his solar panels en route to his final destination where he will begin making observations.

Webb is intended for a location in space 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) known as L2, a Lagrange point, or a gravitational stable location in space. On arrival, the telescope will spend six months in a “commissioning period” during which the team will ensure that it unfolds correctly and that its instruments are functioning correctly.

Webb was previously scheduled to launch on December 18 (after many past delays, budget issues and more) but, as reported by NASA, a tightening band that holds Webb to the launcher adapter that will allow it to be integrated into the Arianespace launcher had unexpectedly released. Teams investigated the unexpected event and performed further testing before setting a new launch date and conducting a “fuel consent” review before starting refueling.

Webb, which will observe the universe in infrared light, is expected to be the most powerful telescope to ever launch into space. Scientists aim to use the instrument to peer further into the cosmos than ever before, giving them unprecedented insight into our universe’s past.

Scientists hope Webb’s powerful observational technology will allow researchers to uncover more information about the early universe, explore mysterious things such as dark matter and dark energy, and more.

Email Chelsea Gohd at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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