Washington, Aug 27 (IANS) NASA’s much-awaited James Webb Space Telescope has successfully completed its final tests, the US space agency has said.
Engineering teams have completed Webb’s long-spanning comprehensive testing regimen at Northrop Grumman’s facilities.
The telescope is now being prepared for shipment to its launch site, and will be completed in September, NASA said in a statement on Thursday.
The US space agency recently pushed back the target for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, touted as its next great space observatory, to October 2021.
Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021.
The launch has been pushed due to impacts from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as well as technical challenges.
“NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major turning point on its path toward launch with the completion of final observatory integration and testing,” said Gregory L Robinson, Webb’s program director at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in the statement.
“We have a tremendously dedicated workforce who brought us to the finish line, and we are very excited to see that Webb is ready for launch and will soon be on that science journey,” he added.
While shipment operations are underway, teams located in Webb’s Mission Operations Centre (MOC) at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore will continue to check and recheck the complex communications network it will use in space.
Recently this network fully demonstrated that it is capable of seamlessly sending commands to the spacecraft. Live launch rehearsals are underway within the MOC with the explicit purpose of preparing for launch day and beyond.
The James Webb Space Telescope is an amazing feat of human ingenuity. It is an international programme led by NASA with its partners, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency.
The mission has contributions from thousands of scientists, engineers, and other professionals from more than 14 countries and 29 states, in nine different time zones.
Webb will be launch from French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America aboard the ESA’s Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
Moments after completing a 26-minute ride, the spacecraft will separate from the rocket and its solar array will deploy automatically.
It will take one month to fly to its intended orbital location in space nearly one million miles away from Earth, slowly unfolding as it goes.
Scientific operations are expected to commence approximately six months after launch.
NASA says that the James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s largest, most powerful, and complex space science telescope ever built.
It is designed to help in solving the mysteries of our solar system, looking beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probing the mystifying structures and origins of our universe.