NASA's James Webb telescope is one step closer to launch

The telescope has undergone rigorous testing ahead of its launch next year.

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NASA/Chris Gunn
NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has just left the thermal vacuum chamber where it's spent more than three months being put through its paces in a series of hardcore cryogenic tests. Scientists wanted to make sure the telescope's instruments and optical element can function properly in the cold, airless conditions of space, and while NASA studies the results, engineers are busy putting JWST back together again, in preparation for its launch in spring 2019.

JWST will take to the skies from a European spaceport in French Guiana and journey to the sun-Earth Lagrange point 2, which is situated about 930,000 miles from Earth. Like its predecessor the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST will operate in infrared waves to peer into the deepest, oldest parts of the universe. The launch date has already been pushed back twice due to integration issues, but JWST is the most powerful telescope of its kind with the potential to unlock the secrets of life as we know it. It's no surprise NASA is taking the time to make sure everything is ready.

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