Ariane 5 launches James Webb Space Telescope28. 12. 2021
Ariane 5 which is the most powerful and safest rocket Europe can offer launched the James Webb Space Telescope at 12:20 UTC from the ELA-3 launch complex at the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. The upper stage released the $10 billion telescope 27 minutes and seven seconds after liftoff. The launch vehicle inserted JWST on the correct trajectory to enter the Lagrange point (L2) in 30 days. The solar array was also successfully released and fully extended shortly after separation.
Before the Webb telescope becomes operational it will have to go through the process of deploying many of its components with 344 single-point failures, 80% of which are in deployment systems. However, the ground personal is ready to address any issue with the complex deployment sequence.
Once deployed, scientists and engineers will spend months commissioning and adjusting the telescope, including aligning its optics, and then the four instruments which will take about six months to complete. At T+12 days, the port primary mirror wing deployment will begin followed by the starboard primary mirror wing a day later.
The James Webb Space Telescope aims to search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the Universe after the Big Bang, study the formation and evolution of galaxies, understand the formation of stars and planetary systems and study planetary systems and the origins of life.
If everything is nominal and goes to plan, the first images could be delivered about six months after launch, in May or June of 2022.