As reported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), engineering teams have completed the comprehensive comprehensive testing system for telescopio James Webb at the Northrop Grumman facility.
Several tests and checkpoints are designed to ensure that the world’s most complex space science observatory operates as designed once in space.
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Now that the testing is complete, the charging processes begin. This includes all the steps needed to prepare James Webb for safe travel through the Panama Canal to the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America. Preparations for shipment will be completed in September.
“NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major turning point on its way to launch with the completion of integration and final testing of the observatory,” said Gregory L. Robinson, director of the Webb Program at Space Agency Headquarters in Washington. “We have a hugely dedicated workforce that has brought us to the finish line, and we’re very excited to see that Webb is ready to take off and soon be on that scientific journey,” he added.
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While cargo operations are underway, teams at the Webb Mission Operations Center (MOC) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore will continue to verify the complex communications network they will use in space. This network has recently proven to be able to send commands to the spacecraft without problems. Live launch exercises take place within the MOC with the express purpose of preparing for launch day and beyond.
Once Webb arrives in French Guiana, launch processing teams will set up an observatory for the flight. Next, the observatory’s engineering teams will anchor the launch vehicle, an Ariane 5 rocket provided by the European Space Agency (ESA), before launching it onto the launch pad. Webb is an international program run by NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and the Canadian Space Agency.
Mission with contributions from thousands of scientists, engineers, and other professionals from more than 14 countries and 29 states, in nine different time zones.
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“For me, the Webb launch will be a significant event in my life. Of course I’ll be happy when it succeeds, but it will also be a time for deep personal reflection,” said Mark Vuitton, director of testing and integration at Webb Observatory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Twenty years of my life would get to that point.
“We’ve come a long way and worked hard together to prepare our observatory for flight. The telescope’s journey has just begun, but for those of us on Earth who built it, our time will soon be up and we’ll have a chance to rest, knowing that we’re putting everything on the line to make sure our observatory works. The bonds we form with each other along the way will continue into the future.”
*With information from NASA
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