The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) claims that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, is on track for an October 2018 launch.

The Hubble was launched into low-Earth orbit in 1990 and is still in operation. However, the telescope will soon be succeeded by the JWST. Over the past two decades, scientists have made many discoveries with the help of the Hubble.

The new telescope was named after James Webb, former NASA administrator. The $8.8 billion JWST will become the most powerful and also the largest space telescope ever built. Scientists are hoping that they will be able to make significant discoveries with the help of the JWST after its launch.

"JWST will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System," stated NASA.

Scientists are developing some innovative technologies for the JWST, which include a primary mirror that is made of 18 single segments made from extra-lightweight beryllium. These mirrors will be self-adjusting and will unfold after the launch.

The space telescope will also have a five-layer sunshield that will be the size of a tennis court. The sunshield will reduce the sun's heat so that the telescope does not become extremely hot. The sunshield is a very important aspect of the JWST; it protects instruments in the telescope from harmful radiation.

The JWST will have a number of cameras and instruments, which can observe 100 objects at a time.

The telescope project has been in development since 1996, but the mission came across some hurdles. NASA previously planned to launch the telescope in 2011 at a cost of $1.6 billion. The launch has already been postponed to 2018, and the project cost is now way over the original estimation.

In July 2011, the House of Representatives also proposed to withdraw the JWST project. However, in November 2011, Congress reversed the plans to cancel the project.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, recently assured Congress that the project is on time and will be completed with the revised funding of $8.8 billion.

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