Europa Press Agency

Lima, October 13, 2021Updated on 10/13/2021 05:00 pm

The James Webb Space Telescope of the NASA has arrived in French Guiana for its December launch from the Kourou base, after a 16-day sea voyage from California.

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The world’s largest and most complex space science observatory will now be driven to its launch site, where will begin two months of operational preparations ahead of its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket, scheduled for December 18.

According to NASA, once operational 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, Webb reveal knowledge about all phases of cosmic history, from just after the Big Bang, and will help look for signs of potential habitability among the thousands of exoplanets that scientists have discovered in recent years. The mission is an international collaboration led by NASA, in partnership with European and Canadian space agencies.

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After completing testing in August at Northrop Grumman Space Park in Redondo Beach, California, Webb’s team spent nearly a month folding, storing and preparing the massive observatory for shipment to South America. Webb was shipped in a custom-made, environmentally controlled container.

Late at night on Friday, September 24, Webb traveled with a police escort 26 miles through the streets of Los Angeles, from the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach to Naval Station Seal Beach. There, it was loaded onto the MN Colibri, a French-flagged freighter that had previously carried satellites and spaceflight hardware to Kourou. The MN Colibri left Seal Beach on Sunday, September 26, and entered the Panama Canal on Tuesday, October 5 on its way to Kourou.

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Arrival in French Guiana of the ship that has transported the NASA Webb telescope for 16 days from California.  (POT)
Arrival in French Guiana of the ship that has transported the NASA Webb telescope for 16 days from California. (POT)

The ocean voyage represented ehe final leg of Webb’s long overland journeys over the years. The telescope was assembled at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, beginning in 2013. In 2017, it was shipped to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for cryogenic testing at the historic “Camera A ”, famous for its use during the Apollo missions. In 2018, Webb was dispatched to Space Park in California, where it underwent rigorous testing for three years to ensure its readiness for operations in the space environment.

Once Webb is removed from its shipping container, engineers will perform final health checks on the observatory. Later, Webb will be configured for flight, which includes loading the spacecraft with thrusters, before Webb is mounted on top of the rocket and placed in the fairing for launch.

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