While the Hubble Space Telescope has earned its rightful place in the annals of space exploration history, the time has come to consider its replacement. Hubble has taken some of the most beautiful and memorable photographs of our night sky, but one cannot deny that the technology installed in the telescope is aging and may soon be outdated. Not surprisingly, therefore, NASA is in the process of building a successor space telescope that will come packed with the latest and greatest technologies currently available. The telescope will be named the James Webb Space Telescope or JWST for short.
The JSWT is currently being built at the Goddard Space Center in Maryland and the project is considered as one of NASA's top priorities. The construction process is well under way and with the Senate's passing of a $658 million budget for the project, everything is currently on schedule. While NASA is one of the primary proponents of the JWST, a number of international agencies are also collaborating on the project. The list includes other space agencies like the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
When completed, experts such as NASA astrophysicist Amber Straughn say that it will be the largest space telescope ever built. Unlike the Hubble Telescope, the JWST will also be sent out further at an estimated distance of four times the distance from the Earth to the moon. At this distance, the new telescope will be able to take in more information than previously possible.
The engineers working on the project have been making headway and the telescope's primary mirror array has already been completed and delivered to the Maryland facility. The JWST's primary mirror, which is made up of 18 separate hexagonal mirrors, will stand 21 feet tall and will be used to capture images from the far reaches of space. Making the JSWT's mirrors took a lot of effort and years of work due to the fact that making a durable and highly reflective surface that can withstand the extremely cold temperatures of space is a very difficult task. if everything continues on schedule, the JSWT will be launched in October 2018.