Science and Exploration

The James Webb Space Telescope Has Left Earth

By Keith Cowing
December 25, 2021
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The James Webb Space Telescope Has Left Earth
Webb Space Telescope Departs Earth Orbit

The James Webb Space Telescope is safely in space, powered on and communicating with ground controllers.
Webb continues in coast phase, and is now oriented correctly with respect to the Sun.

At approximately 30 minutes after launch, Webb’s solar array began to open up. It is now fully deployed and we have confirmed that the spacecraft is power positive.

The six reaction wheels of the spacecraft’s attitude control system have been powered on, and they are now responsible for keeping the spacecraft pointing in the right direction – so that its massive sunshield, which is the size of a tennis court and which will deploy over the course of the next week – will be able to keep the telescope protected from solar radiation and heat.

Webb is on its way to L2. Our next big milestone is this evening, when we conduct the first Mid-Course Correction burn.



SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.