While NASA had put fuel to keep James Webb running for 10 years, the very good launch allows us to be more optimistic.
The James Webb Space Telescope has been a real eye-catcher since its launch on December 25. While the latter went very well aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket. NASA continues to scrutinize the data around its telescope, and has just made a pleasant surprise by monitoring the latter’s constants.
Indeed, the quantity of fuel remaining after take-off is slightly in excess of what was expected. The American space agency explains that the first two maneuvers to change the trajectory are the reasons for this excess fuel. It is therefore with enthusiasm that NASA assured that the telescope had sufficient quantities of propellants to make its mission last well over 10 years.
Extra fuel offered by ESA
The fuel present in the telescope’s motor must allow it to be sent to its destination, the Lagrange 2 point. An area of our Earth-Sun system which is at the crossroads of the gravitational forces of the star and our planet. At this point of stability, the telescope will then turn to deep space to peer into it in fine detail.
According to NASA, this is thanks to the very good work of the ESA, and to the very good trajectory holding by the Ariane 5 rocket during the flight. The latter had another consequence. Indeed, NASA assures that the deployment of solar panels, scheduled to arrive 33 minutes after takeoff, when it separated from the telescope from the central body of the rocket, took place faster than expected.
29 days when anything can happen
But while the launch had followed a perfect trajectory, it was therefore possible for NASA to open the solar panels after 29 minutes after the launch.
Now the James Webb Space Telescope is sailing towards point Lagrange 2. It should become operational in what month, it which will reach point Lagrange 2, 29 days after its departure, in mid-January. Until then, the telescope will still have to perform several very complicated maneuvers, including one that must allow the different instrument to deploy, giving the telescope its final shape, or almost.