On Dec. 7, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope was transferred to the final assembly building at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana to meet its Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
Stowed inside a special transport container and mobile clean room, Webb’s vitals were meticulously monitored throughout the entire process of moving between buildings.
The Ariane 5 rocket Webb will ride to space was moved to the same building on Nov. 29. Here, adjustable platforms allow engineers to access the launch vehicle and its payload.
The next steps ahead are to safely lift Webb to an upper platform which has been prepared so that Webb can be connected to the Ariane 5’s upper stage. After being connected to the rocket, technicians will move forward to encapsulate Webb inside Ariane 5’s specially adapted fairing.
In preparation for a Dec. 22 launch, ground teams have already successfully completed the delicate operation of loading the spacecraft with the propellant it will use to steer itself while in space.
Webb will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. As part of an international collaboration agreement, ESA (the European Space Agency) is providing the telescope’s launch service. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission.
Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
Find out more about Webb here: https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/index.html
By Thaddeus Cesari, Webb science writer, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.