After years of research and development, NASA launched the James Webb Space Telescope alongside the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America.
“Ground teams began receiving telemetry data from Webb about five minutes after launch. The Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket performed as expected, separating from the observatory 27 minutes into the flight. The observatory was released at an altitude of approximately 870mi (1,400km). Approximately 30 minutes after launch, Webb unfolded its solar array and mission managers confirmed that the solar array was providing power to the observatory. After solar array deployment, mission operators will establish a communications link with the observatory via the Malindi ground station in Kenya and ground control at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore will send the first commands to the spacecraft,” explained NASA via a press release.
The first three mid-course corrections burns will be conducted by engineers and ground controllers about 12 hours and 30 minutes after launch to maneuver the spacecraft in the adequate trajectory towards its destination in orbit, which is about 1 million mi from earth. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, highlighted the work of thousands of people worldwide to complete the mission after several years of collaboration and effort.
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) launched a masterclass in 2020 with UNAM with the participation of researchers Aida Wofford, Yilen Gomez Maqueo and Omaira Gonzalez Martin of UNAM’s Institute of Astronomy and Institute of Radioastronomy and Astrophysics for the Mexican community to present several vital aspects of the James Webb Space Telescope. Initially, an introduction, instrumentation, science of the telescope and an observation proposal during JWST’s were offered in the masterclass.
“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us forward into the future. The promise of Webb is not what we know we will discover; it is what we do not yet understand or cannot yet fathom about our universe. I cannot wait to see what it uncovers,” said NASA’ Administrator Bill Nelson.