It is certain that the James Webb Space Telescope will finally set off on its journey into space early next year after years of delay. NASA has announced that the device will be ready on the scheduled date.
Although this date has been postponed many times, there has never been such a chance of its launch. NASA said recent murderous tests of the device have shown it is on track to be ready for launch in March 2021. Earlier, GAO reported after the inspection that there was no chance for March next year and it would be November.
The James Webb Space Telescope will observe the abyss of the Universe from orbit around the sun, namely from the so-called point L2. The most important part of the device, i.e. the mirror, will consist of 18 hexagonal segments, each of which will be over a meter in diameter. In total, the mirror surface made of beryllium will be as much as 25.4 m2.
JWST is to change beyond recognition our observations of phenomena occurring throughout the universe. It will be such a precise instrument that thanks to it we will obtain images of the first stars and galaxies that formed just after the Big Bang. We will also get information on the formation of galaxies and star systems, as well as discover new, existence-friendly planet life, and perhaps even traces of alien civilizations.
Although the design and construction of the device may take nearly $10 billion in total, it is worth waiting for the first effects of its work in space. Humanity needs these types of instruments to find its place in the cosmos and answer the age-old questions: where do we come from and where are we going? NASA already plans to build much larger and more complex devices. They will be created much faster and for less money.
The agency has recently invested in a space telescope project that, once it reaches orbit, will consist of tens of parts by itself. In order to minimize the construction costs of such new generation telescopes, individual components of the installation will be sent into space on various missions.
Once the individual parts reach the point L2, a special robot will put them together, creating a telescope. If any unforeseen problems occur, the next components will be sent back into space and the robot will take care of putting them together.
The instrument will consist of dozens of hexagonal modules approximately one meter wide. The entire telescope is to have a mirror diameter of over 30 meters and be the largest of its kind in history. Interestingly, the Webb Space Telescope, which will be placed in space next year, boasts a mirror diameter of only 6.5 meters, and it will be the most powerful in history.
The project has just entered the first phase of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program. The folding telescope system was developed by engineers at Cornell University. NASA invested $125,000 in the preparation of a detailed concept for the implementation of such a solution in practice.