NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope recently emerged from Chamber A at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Dec. 1 to prepare for its upcoming move to California.
The telescope’s combined science instruments and optical element recently completed about 100 days of cryogenic testing inside Johnson’s Chamber A, a massive thermal vacuum testing chamber at the center. Scientists and engineers at Johnson put Webb through a series of tests designed to ensure the telescope functioned as expected in an extremely cold, airless environment akin to that of space.
This move outside the chamber brings Webb one step closer to its journey to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, Calif., where it will be integrated with its spacecraft element to form the complete James Webb Space Telescope observatory. The spacecraft element is Webb’s combined sunshield and spacecraft bus.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier infrared space observatory of the next decade. A barrier-breaking mission for engineers and astronomers, Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it.
Webb is expected to launch from Kourou, French Guiana, in the spring of 2019.
The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade. It was assembled in a Class 10,000 cleanroom at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).