Technical University of Denmark: James Webb successfully launched into space

The James Webb Space Telescope lifted off on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, at 13:20 CET today (25 December 2021) on its exciting mission to unlock the secrets of the Universe. From space, the telescope will explore the formation of the universe’s first galaxies, stars and planets, as well as exoplanets outside our solar system, which may have the potential for life.

The James Webb Space Telescope mission is an international project led by ESA, NASA and the national Canadian Space Agency. DTU and other Danish universities contribute to the project and play an important role in the groundbreaking space mission.

The coming month the telescope will reach it’s position at a point called L2 about 1.5 million km from the earth.

“We are proud that DTU Space contributes with both technology and research to the James Webb mission, which is one of this century’s most significant space missions”
Henning Skriver, DTU Space director
“The launch of the telescope has been postponed a few times in December, so we are very pleased that it has now been sent into space successfully. And we are proud that DTU Space contributes with both technology and research to the James Webb mission, which is one of this century’s most significant space missions,” says DTU Space director Henning Skriver.

DTU Space has contributed with the development, design, construction and testing of a carbon fibre based suspension structure for the instrument called MIRI on the telescope.

And scientists at DTU are also at the forefront when the telescope begins to send data back to earth to be analyzed.

On it’s way 1.5 million. km into space with solar panels unfolded

Following launch and separation from the rocket, the James Webb’s mission operations centre in Baltimore, USA, confirmed Webb deployed its solar array and is in good condition, marking the launch a success.

“Launching Webb is a huge celebration of the international collaboration that made this next-generation mission possible,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.

“I want to thank everyone involved with the design, construction, and launch of this ambitious telescope, for making this day a reality. We are close to receiving Webb’s new view of the universe and the exciting scientific discoveries that it will make.”

Ready to observe the universe in six months

While the James Webb telescope is in space on its way to L2, it will undergo a complex sequence in which its large mirror system unfolds. At the same time, the telescope’s instruments will be switched on and tested.
The telescope is expected to be ready for use in about six months.

“The James Webb Space Telescope represents the ambition that NASA and our partners maintain to propel us forward into the future. I can’t wait to see what it uncovers,” says NASA’s head administrator Bill Nelson.

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