The planned James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is still far from completed but a lot of progress has been made on manufacturing the individual components. Once completed, the JWST will replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope bringing with it the latest and greatest technology currently available.
The JWST is scheduled to be launched in 2018. Due to recent advances in technology, the new telescope will be more powerful than Hubble. In fact, it will be the most powerful telescope ever built upon its completion.
While construction on the space telescope is currently underway, NASA has recently conducted a press conference to discuss the impact of the JWST on astronomy and NASA in general. The conference was also attended by US Senator Barbara Mikulksi (D-Md.) and Charles Bolden, the current Administrator of NASA. The primary mirror arrays and flight instruments were also delivered to the Goddard Space Flight last Monday.
"The Hubble Space Telescope has already rewritten the science books. Going from Hubble to the James Webb Space Telescope is like going from a biplane to the jet engine," says Sen. Mikulksi, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee that funds NASA. "As Chairwoman, I've continued to fight for funds in the federal checkbook to keep the James Webb Space Telescope mission on track, supporting jobs today and jobs tomorrow at Goddard. NASA Goddard is home to leaders in Maryland's space and innovation economies, making discoveries that not only win Nobel Prizes, but create new products and jobs. The James Webb Space Telescope will keep us in the lead for astronomy for decades to come, spurring the innovation and technology that keep America's economy rolling."
With the powerful instruments onboard the JWST, it may finally be possible to answer one of the greatest questions of all time: Is there life in outer space? The new telescope will be able to observe very distant objects and scientists are expecting to find, document and catalogue new planets. The JWST will house a total of 18 primary mirrors making it a hundred times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope.
"The recent completion of the critical design review for Webb, and the delivery of all its instruments to Goddard, mark significant progress for this mission," says NASA administrator Bolden. "The design, build, delivery and testing of these components took meticulous planning and action here at Goddard and with teams across the country, as well as with our international partners. It's very exciting to see it all coming together on schedule. And I want to thank our good friend Senator Barbara Mikulski for her support. We wouldn't be here today without her championing of this critical capability for NASA. I know she understands just how important it is to continue to push the boundaries of what we can do in space."