The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and it will be almost three times the size of Hubble. JWST has been designed to work best at infrared wavelengths. This will allow it to study the very distant Universe, looking for the first stars and galaxies that ever emerged. CREDIT: ESA

NASA’s Next Space Telescope Coming Together, Piece by Piece

by Nola Taylor Redd, Contributor
Date: 25 January 2013 Time: 07:00 AM ET

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is one of the most intricate and powerful observatories ever devised.

Almost immediately after launching into space in 2018, James Webb Space Telescope will begin the slow process of unfolding from its clamshell configuration into the most sensitive infrared instrument of its kind yet built. The telescope will then begin peering deep into the cosmos for signals left over from the Big Bang that created our universe.

But JWST’s nail-biting deployment won’t be the first time the craft unfolds. Before constructing the final components, engineers have been making sure to test and retest mockups in conditions potentially harsher than the telescope — the long-awaited $8.8 billion successor to NASA’s iconic Hubble Space Telescope — will experience.

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