NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully landed in French Guiana on Tuesday (October 12, 2021), after a 16-day sea voyage. The 5,800-mile [5,800 km] trek from the Webb from California through the Panama Canal to the Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.
The largest and most complex space science center will now be sent to its launch site, the European Spaceport in Kourou, where it will begin two months of operational preparations before its launch at the Ariane 5 rocket, scheduled for December 18.
Once operational, Webb will reveal an understanding of all phases of cosmic history - back just after a major explosion - and will help to identify clues that may exist among the thousands of exoplanets scientists have discovered in recent years. The goal is NASA-led international cooperation, in partnership with space organizations in Europe and Canada.
"The James Webb Space Telescope is a great achievement, designed to transform our vision of the universe and bring about amazing science," said NASA Chief Bill Nelson. “Webb will look back on more than 13 billion years in the light created just after the great explosion, with the potential to show humanity the farthest reaches of the universe we have ever seen. We are now very close to unlocking the mysteries of the universe, thanks to the skills and expertise of our amazing team. ”
Webb Arrives at Port de Pariacabo
The MN Colibri arrived on October 12 in Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana, carrying NASA's James Webb Space Telescope as a cargo. Credit: NASA / Chris Gunn
After completing the August test at Northrop Grumman’s Space Park in Redondo Beach, California, the Webb team spent almost a month wrapping, paddling, and preparing a large viewing space to be shipped to South America. Webb was sent to a custom-built, environmentally controlled container.
On Friday evening, September 24, Webb accompanied police escorting 26 miles of streets in Los Angeles, from Northrop Grumman station in Redondo Beach to Navy Weapons Station Seal Beach. There, it was loaded onto MN Colibri, a French flag cargo ship that once transported satellites and spaceflight hardware to Kourou. MN Colibri left Seal Beach on Sunday, September 26 and entered the Panama Canal on Tuesday, October 5 en route to Kourou.
The voyage represented the last leg of Webb's long voyage, landing years ago. The telescope was installed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, from 2013. In 2017, we were sent to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston for cryogenic testing at the “Chamber A” testing center, famous for its use during the Apollo mission.
In 2018, Webb was deployed to Space Park in California, where for three years it was rigorously tested to confirm its readiness to operate in space.
“A team of talented people from all over the United States, Canada, and Europe worked together to build this very complex facility. It's an incredible challenge - and very rewarding. We will see things in the universe beyond what we can imagine today, ”said Thomas Zurbuchen, executive director of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"Now that Webb has arrived in Kourou, we are preparing for its launch in December - and we will look forward to it in the next few weeks and months as we launch and repair the largest telescope ever built."
After Webb has been removed from its shipping container, engineers will perform final checks at the Observatory. The Webb will then be ready for flight, which will include aerospace and crash equipment, before the Webb can be mounted on a rocket and installed at the launch site.
"Webb's arrival at the launch site is a major event," said Gregory Robinson, Webb's program director at NASA headquarters. “We are very excited to finally send the next big spacecraft to the deep sky. Webb crossed the country and went to sea. It will now take its final journey by rocket a million miles from Earth, taking beautiful photos of the first galaxies in the universe that will surely change our understanding of our place in space. ”
Looking forward to your responses : )