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The launch of the James Webb Telescope - this is how participating scientists interact - News

The launch of the James Webb Telescope – this is how participating scientists interact – News


After decades of planning, the most expensive space telescope ever built in space history was successfully launched on Saturday.

After 30 years of development and $10 billion in costs as well as repeatedly delaying launches, it took another tense 27 minutes on Saturday for loud cheers to finally begin in front of the screens at the European spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana.

Tension among onlookers at the control center eased seconds later before the most expensive telescope in human history disengaged from its launcher.

Among them is Daniel Neuschwander of the European Space Agency (ESA). “The trip was fantastic,” says the Swiss engineer. “The missile fired exactly, the exact speed we wanted. It was amazing, I am so grateful.”

The Ariane 5 launcher flew through the atmosphere in a few minutes – after which parts of the engine and rocket were gradually enveloped.

NASA Scientific Director Thomas Zurbuchen of Switzerland is relieved: “When we look at the beginning, it is always the end and the beginning of something. The end of an engineering project on the ground, with many wonderful hours and great challenges. But it is also the beginning. The beginning of one of the most important tasks unbelievable for mankind.”

Upcoming trip for a year

The telescope will take about four weeks to reach its target orbit, which is about 1.5 million kilometers away. Among other things, it will look at the universe deeper than any other telescope before with the help of a 25-square-meter mirror. The telescope will explore the oldest galaxies in space for more than ten years.

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“We’re going to look deep into our universe,” says Daniel Neuschwander. “We will get more understanding.” The first data and images from the telescope are not expected until summer at the earliest – if all goes well.


Zurbuchen (wearing white shirt) follows the launch of the Ariane 5 launcher, which brought the telescope into space.