In short: NASA provided the James Webb Space Telescope with a health report following an unexpected incident during preparations for launch earlier this week. With any luck, this little issue will pave the way for a smooth launch next month.
If you remember, NASA said on Monday that the “sudden, unexpected release of the clamping band” used to attach the telescope to the rocket adapter caused a vibration that engulfed the entire observatory. The space agency has set up a review committee to fully investigate this issue, as even a small glitch at this stage of the game could jeopardize the entire project. This is even more true given that the telescope will not be used by humans when it reaches its destination in space more than 900,000 miles from Earth.
NASA further reported that engineering teams had completed additional testing of the telescope, noting that there was no damage from the clamping incident.
With permission to continue, refueling work began on November 25 and will last about 10 days. If all else goes according to plan, the JWST kicks off December 22 at approximately 7:20 am ET from Kourou in French Guiana. Arianespace Rocket Ariane 5.
Despite numerous delays and cost overruns, the project appears to have reached the finish line. Once in space, the telescope will take about 30 days to reach its target – the second Lagrange point, or L2. In the months that followed, Webb will conduct a series of tests to calibrate his mirrors. The first scientific operations will begin approximately six months after launch.