[Via Satellite 12-17-2015] The European Space Agency (ESA) and Arianespace have announced the signature of the launch services contract for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), to be orbited by an Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle from the Guiana Space Center in October 2018. The Integrated Science Instrument Module, with all four flight instruments integrated, is currently undergoing final cryo-verification testing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Integration of the 18 mirror segments, which will unfold after launch into the largest mirror ever placed in space, is also now underway.
The JWST is a joint space project between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The protracted research project is designed to tackle a wide range of subjects, including detecting and studying the first galaxies in the universe, witnessing the birth of new stars and their planetary systems, and studying planets in our Solar System and around other stars.
With its 6.5-meter-diameter telescope, the observatory will be folded up inside the fairing of the Ariane 5 ECA for launch. Following its separation from the launcher, the 6.5-ton observatory will quickly begin deployment maneuvers toward Lagrange Point 2, located 1.5 million km from Earth.
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