NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has passed key environmental tests

The observatory is still on track to launch next October.


NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is still on track for its planned deployment next year after it passed environmental testing. Those evaluations assess whether the telescope can survive its launch.

"The successful completion of our observatory environmental tests represent a monumental milestone in the march to launch," Bill Ochs, Webb project manager for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement. "Environmental testing demonstrates Webb’s ability to survive the rocket ride to space, which is the most violent portion of its trip to orbit approximately a million miles from Earth."

Acoustic and vibration tests were conducted on the long-delayed Hubble successor at Northrop Grumman’s facility in California. That aerospace company is building Webb for NASA.

The telescope has to go through more testing, including a full systems evaluation, before engineers pack it up “origami-style” to ship Webb to its launch site in French Guiana. So far though, Webb is on course to meet its current launch window of October 2021.