The international James Webb Space Telescope mission has successfully passed the final mission analysis review for its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.
This major milestone, carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Webb launch service provider Arianespace, confirms that the Ariane 5 rocket, the Webb spacecraft and the flight plan are set for launch. It also specifically provides the final confirmation that all aspects of the launch vehicle and spacecraft are fully compatible.
During launch, the spacecraft experiences a range of mechanical forces, vibrations, temperature changes, and electromagnetic radiation. All technical evaluations performed by Arianespace on the mission's key aspects, including the launch trajectory and payload separation, have shown positive results.
Ariane 5 will deliver the telescope directly into a precision transfer orbit towards its destination, the second Lagrange point (L2). After separation from the launcher, Webb will continue its four-week-long journey to L2 alone. L2 is four times farther away than the Moon, 1.5 million kilometres from Earth in the direction away from the Sun.
Set for launch in fall 2021, Webb will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. It is an international partnership between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency. ESA is procuring the Ariane 5 launcher and the launch services as part of its contribution. Canada contributed the Fine Guidance Sensor and the NIRISS science instrument.