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NASA's James Webb Telescope Has One Downside -- Repair is Impossible Once in Space

Nov 04, 2016 06:55 AM EDT
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Discusses New James Webb Space Telescope
GREENBELT, MD - NOVEMBER 02: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (L) and Senior Project Scientist John Mather answer questions from the media about the James Webb Space Telescope (rear) November 2, 2016 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The telescope, designed to be a large space-based observatory optimized for infrared wavelengths, will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. It is scheduled to be launched in October 2018.
(Photo : Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NASA's fleet of advanced space observation tools will be upgraded with the launch of the world's largest space telescope, the James Webb Telescope. It took experts two decades to build and it will be capable of peeking through neighboring star systems and planets within the Solar System. However, the only downside is that the telescope will be placed too far away from Earth that repair and rescue missions might just be impossible if anything goes wrong.

This excludes failure in the vocabulary of the team behind the telescope. This means that they will have to get everything right the first time to avoid complications that they might not be able to deal with.

But this should not hinder the mission, in fact, this serves as an inspiration to the engineering team building the telescope to make a powerful and near perfect equipment that is expected to provide unprecedented data scientists have never seen before.

The James Webb Telescope is the successor of NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble has had its share of glitches but astronauts and engineers managed to repair the spacecraft while deployed in space. Such technology will not be available for the new telescope.

"The feeling we had was that NASA's credibility was at stake with the Hubble repair mission," Lee Feinberg, optical telescope manager for the James Webb Telescope said in a statement. "We knew that failure was not an option. We worked incredibly hard to get it right," Feinberg added.

This is due to the location of the telescope that will be placed at the L2 point where no rescue mission is possible. L2 is millions of miles away from the planet. This is the situation that James Webb developers and NASA Goddard station are facing right now.

The $8.7 billion telescope is expected to launch in 2018. NASA believes that despite the pressure the team is facing, the James Webb Telescope will open the new era of space explorations.

"Today, we're celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished, and we're about to prove that it works," John Mather, astrophysicist and senior project scientist for the James Webb telescope said in an interview. "We've done two decades of innovation and hard work, and this is the result - we're opening up a whole new territory of astronomy."


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