The greatest origin story of all unfolds with the James Webb Space Telescope. Webb’s launch is a pivotal moment that exemplifies the dedication, innovation, and ambition behind NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA), but it is only the beginning. The 29 days following liftoff will be an exciting but harrowing time. Thousands of parts must work correctly, in sequence, to unfold Webb and put it in its final configuration, all while it flies through the expanse of space alone, to a destination nearly one million miles away. As the largest and most complex telescope ever sent into space, the James Webb Space Telescope is a technological marvel. By necessity, Webb takes on-orbit deployments to the extreme. Each step can be controlled expertly from the ground, giving Webb’s Mission Operations Center full control to circumnavigate any unforeseen issues with deployment.
The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST or Webb) is a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror. The telescope will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021.
The Webb telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System.
The Webb telescope was formerly known as the “Next Generation Space Telescope” (NGST); it was renamed in September 2002 after a former NASA administrator, James Webb.