NASA’s Webb Space Telescope & SLS Moon Rocket Named TIME Inventions of 2022

James Webb Space Telescope Rotating

James Webb Space telescope. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and Space Launch System (SLS) rocket were named 2022 TIME Inventions of the Year. NASA led the international Webb partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). The agency’s SLS rocket, the world’s most powerful rocket, is designed to send humans to the Moon on Artemis missions for the benefit of humanity. TIME made the announcement on Thursday, November 10.

“We designed the Webb observatory to see the first lights that turned on in our universe. When I saw the first images released, I was struck with awe, wonder, and the satisfaction of knowing that whatever is out there, Webb will see it,” said Mike Menzel, NASA mission systems engineer for Webb at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. TIME named Webb a Best Invention in the “Design” category.

The James Webb Space Telescope

In addition to looking at distant stars, galaxies and exoplanets, the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope will investigate our Solar System. Credit: Northrup Grumman

The SLS rocket is planned to launch on its first flight test for the Artemis I mission, Wednesday, November 16, to send an uncrewed Orion spacecraft around the Moon and back to Earth to thoroughly test systems before missions with astronauts. SLS is the only rocket capable of launching humans in Orion along with their supplies to the Moon and beyond. TIME named SLS a Best Invention in the “Experimental” category.

“We will demonstrate the capability of the Space Launch System Moon rocket, the largest rocket NASA has built since the Saturn V, on the Artemis I mission,” said John Honeycutt, SLS program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “The heavy-lift rocket’s innovative design allows it to evolve and become even more powerful so that it can carry both astronauts and large cargos on increasingly more complex missions to the Moon and Mars.”

SLS Rocket and Orion Spacecraft

SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Launched on December 25, 2021, from Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, the Webb telescope has already been uncovering previously unseen views and hidden secrets of the universe. Webb has seen early galaxies, provided a new look at planets in our own solar system, and peered through dusty clouds to see stars forming, such as in the Pillars of Creation.

NASA Headquarters, Washington oversees the Webb telescope mission. NASA Goddard manages Webb for the agency and oversees work on the mission performed by the Space Telescope Science Institute, Northrop Grumman, and other mission partners. In addition to Goddard, several NASA centers contributed to the project, including the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in southern California, Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and others.

NASA SLS Orion at Launch Pad

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B, Friday, November 11, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I flight test is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. Launch of the uncrewed flight test is targeted for no earlier than November 16 at 1:04 a.m. EST. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

With its unprecedented power and capabilities, the SLS rocket provides the foundation for NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon and beyond. SLS makes it possible to launch the Orion spacecraft, which is built in partnership with ESA, on missions to the Moon that will provide the knowledge for humans to travel to Mars. SLS is built with a combination of proven systems and innovative manufacturing. To fulfill America’s future needs for deep space missions, SLS will evolve into increasingly more powerful configurations.

SLS is America’s rocket and more than 1,000 companies in 45 states contributed to the rocket managed by Marshall, which oversees the work by lead contractors Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and other companies. Currently, NASA and its industry partners are in the process of building rockets for four more Artemis missions. All NASA Centers have played a role in the Artemis missions, which are launching a new era of human deep space exploration.

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