NASA is ready to launch the James Webb Telescope into space (after a bad “fall”) – Corriere.it

from Riccardo Lichene

A vise gave way causing the $ 10 billion telescope to suffer unexpected vibrations. Tests have said that everything is fine so the James Webb will set off on its journey into space in late December

After “falling” from him last week, officials from NASA and the European Space Agency have confirmed that preparations for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope will continue. The $ 10 billion facility is expected to be launched on a European-built Ariane 5 rocket not before December 22nd. NASA said engineers have completed all necessary tests to ensure the telescope’s readiness for space flight, and refueling operations began on November 25. The telescope has 20 small thrusters for maneuvering in orbit after launch and will be filled with approximately 240 liters of hydrazine-based fuel and dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer. The restocking process will take approximately 10 days.

The decision to proceed with the countdown to the launch of the Webb telescope is considered good news after the very worrying announcement a week ago. In fact, on November 22, NASA said it would delay the launch by a few days of the space telescope to investigate an “anomaly” occurred during processing operations at the launch site in Kourou, in French Guiana. Technicians were preparing to attach the Webb to the launch vehicle’s adapter, which is used to integrate the telescope with the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket, NASA wrote in a blog post, when a sudden, unexpected release planned of a vise, which fixed the Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, caused a vibration throughout the telescope. The problem occurred in early November, and NASA immediately called an anomaly review committee to investigate what happened and conduct further tests. Following the latest verifications, the engineers concluded that the telescope (which NASA calls an observatory because it is a set of various instruments) had not been damaged by the vibrations of the clamp release.

The long-awaited launch of the space telescope only the beginning of the long journey of the James Webb and his scientific operations. Its takeoff later this year will make it a nerve-wracking Christmas to say the least for NASA managers and scientists who hope to use the powerful telescope to look back into spacetime and see some of the earliest galaxies that formed in the universe. After its launch, the Webb will have to travel approximately 1.5 million km from Earth up to the Lagrange point L2 (here they explain well what it is) beyond the Moon. L, will be able to maintain a stable position without using its onboard propulsion. Along the way, and once you get there, it will take approx 50 automated procedures to prepare the large telescope (which for the journey was folded back on itself) to scientific observations. This process has almost 350 weaknesses and if even one goes wrong, given the distance from Earth, it will be impossible to repair.

November 30, 2021 (change November 30, 2021 | 14:25)

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