James Webb Space Telescope Soon Reaching Important MilestoneBy Russell Westerholm
NASA is taking a massively important step toward the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which will succeed Hubble in 2018.
According to BBC News, NASA engineers are about to amp up their efforts to finalize the JWST's primary mirror surface. Having spent years in a state of preproduction, the JWST is now taking important steps toward its final form.
"This milestone signifies that all of the hexagonal shaped mirrors on the fixed central section of the telescope structure are installed and only the 3 mirrors on each wing are left for installation," Lee Feinberg, NASA's optical telescope element manager at NASA Goddard, said in a press release earlier this month. "The incredibly skilled and dedicated team assembling the telescope continues to find ways to do things faster and more efficiently."
NASA scheduled a media event for Friday, Jan. 29 for JWST mission managers to discuss details of the telescope.
"We keep our fingers crossed, but things have been going tremendously well," John Durning, JWST deputy project manager, told BBC News. "We have eight months of reserve; we've consumed about a month with various activities.
"But I think we've really befitted from the 'pathfinder' work we've done in the last year or so where we practised activities, and that's allowed us to run like a well-oiled machine."
NASA plans to launch the JWST in Oct. 2018 and plans for it to "study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of planetary systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System and beyond."