The History of the James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was developed by NASA, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). It was named after James E. Webb, who served as a NASA administrator and played a key role in the Apollo program. The concept for the JWST was first proposed in 1996, called the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST). 25 years later, JWST was launched on December 25th, 2021.
When Was the James Webb Space Telescope Built?
Construction of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) began in 2004. The plans for JWST date back to September 1989, when NASA held a workshop at the Space Telescope Science Institute. The workshop was titled “The Next Generation: A 10 m Class UV-Visible-IR Successor to HST”. Construction was completed in November 2016, followed by a series of tests to ensure a successful launch.
Who Built the James Webb Space Telescope?
Northrop Grumman built a majority of JWST as the main industrial partner. JWST was planned and funded by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The construction was overseen by Deputy Project Manager, Paul Geithner.
When Was the James Webb Space Telescope Launched?
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) was launched on December 25th, 2021. NASA initially planned to launch JWST in October 2018. In March 2018, a series of issues caused the launch date to be postponed to May of 2020. The launch was delayed another six times due to testing failure, technical challenges and weather conditions:
- June 27th, 2021: The Independent Review Board recommended delaying the mission until March 30th, 2021.
- July 16th, 2020: The launch was postponed to October 31st, 2021 due to COVID-19.
- September 8th, 2021: Issues with the launch site caused a delay to December 18th, 2021.
- November 22nd, 2021: Communications error caused another delay to December 22nd 2021.
- December 15th, 2021: The launch was postponed to December 24th, 2021 due to issues with the launch vehicle
- December 21st, 2021: The launch experienced its final delay to 25 December 2021 due to weather conditions.
When Did the James Webb Space Telescope Begin Observations?
JWST completed commissioning and began scientific operations on July 11th, 2022. NASA shared the first images from the James Webb Telescope at 10:30 am EDT on July 12th, 2022 in a televised press conference.
What Has the James Webb Space Telescope Discovered?
The James Webb Telescope discovered galaxies much older and farther than ever seen before, within just days of coming online. These discoveries include four of the oldest galaxies to ever be documented, dating back roughly 400 million years. It also detected the presence of chemical compounds, including water and carbon monoxide, in exoplanets. These discoveries have provided support for scientific theories regarding the birth of the universe and habitable planets.
How Did the James Webb Space Telescope Impact History?
JWST was designed to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, with a focus on studying the early universe, analyzing forming galaxies, and searching for habitable planets. It was equipped with mid-infrared camera and a near-infrared camera and spectrograph to carry on the HST’s mission, roughly 1 million miles from earth. Within six months of coming online in July 2022, JWST has made numerous discoveries that have influenced scientists’ understanding of the universe.
Where is the James Webb Space Telescope Today?
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reached its final location, the orbit of Lagrange point 2, after 30 days. After traveling nearly 1 million miles, JWST arrived on January 24, 2022. The Space Telescope Science Institute took command of this satellite after its launch. In the following year, JWST made numerous major contributions to astronomy.