Science & Technology

Unboxing the $10 Billion James Webb Space Telescope [Video]


After its arrival at Pariacabo harbor in French Guiana on October 12, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope was transported to Europe’s Spaceport and unboxed in the cleanroom. It is now being prepared for its launch on an Ariane 5 rocket in December.

Though the telescope weighs only six tonnes, it is more than 10.5 m high and almost 4.5 m wide when folded. It was shipped in its folded position in a 30 m long container which, with auxiliary equipment, weighed more than 70 tonnes.

After arriving in the harbor, the telescope inside its container was towed by a heavy-load tractor unit to the spacecraft processing facility at Europe’s Spaceport.

There, Webb’s special shipping container was opened, and the telescope was unboxed inside the facility’s cleanroom and installed on a rollover fixture to raise it vertical. This is how it will stand inside the Ariane 5 fairing.

Webb’s launch campaign involves more than 100 specialists. Teams will work separately to prepare the telescope and the launch vehicle until they become one combined team to join the telescope with its rocket for a momentous liftoff.

Webb will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. As part of an international collaboration agreement, ESA is providing the telescope’s launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission and for the procurement of the launch service by Arianespace.

Webb is an international partnership between NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).





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