Adopted and announced in August this year. the start date of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission turned out to be impossible to meet one month before the scheduled launch. The reason indicated here is an incident due to the self-release of the clamp connecting the valuable observation instrument to the adapter enabling it to be attached to the top of the support system. It happened at the site of the expected launch – at the Kourou space center in French Guiana, where a team of Arianespace and European Space Agency (ESA) employees in consultation with NASA prepare the payload for launch.
The instrument is to be launched into space using the European Ariane 5 rocket. Lagrange point L2 of the Sun-Earth system. This point is 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.
JWST has been at its launch site since October 12 this year. The telescope arrived there on board the MN Colibri, sailing to French Guiana via the Panama Canal from NASA’s California laboratory. During a long and demanding journey, the instrument was carefully secured in a special STTARS container (Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea).
As to the possible consequences of the incident at Kourou, the seriousness of the incident has not yet been clearly stated. Nevertheless, it is indicated that the structure of the telescope may have experienced vibrations during it, which could affect the condition of individual components and the electro-optical system.
NASA immediately set up a team to investigate the consequences of the incident and conduct additional tests to verify that the system’s target parameters were not violated. The US space agency assumes that the checking procedure will end by the end of the week. In light of this, it was also declared that the telescope would be ready for launch no earlier than December 22 this year.
The situation was reassuringly commented by NASA’s deputy administrator for scientific affairs, Thomas Zurbuchen, who indicated, inter alia, that the extraordinary control process results both from the importance of the entire mission and the fact that, at the final stage of integration, the equipment is no longer monitored by the laboratory set of overload sensors. “For pure caution, […] we just perform functional tests to make sure that with all this conservative approach, nothing happened, ”he pointed out.
The expectations regarding the mission of the James Webb Space Telescope are very high. Scientists hope that the instrument will contribute to shifting the next frontiers of human cognition in terms of knowledge of the laws and history of the Universe’s development – becoming in this respect a worthy “successor” to the Hubble Telescope. The project is implemented by NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Source: NASA / PAP