L'observatoire James-Webb plié en forme de rectangle pour tenir dans la coiffe d'Ariane 5. © Nasa, Chris Gunn

To bring the James Webb Observatory to Ariane 5, NASA and Northrop Grumman designed an innovative fold to make it take a rectangular shape. A technical achievement when you know the dimensions of a space telescope and the size of its mirror, anything but a rectangle!

The spatial telescope James Webb (JWST), located in the US at Northrop Grumman was “bent” on forming a rectangle! The folding became necessary to move the observatory to Guyana where it would be launched by A Ariane 5 Dr’Arianespace. This fold is especially necessary to make it fitAriane 5. Because let’s not forget that, James Webb It is 20 meters long and has a Mirror Its primary diameter is 6.5 metres, while the sun visor, which should be spread out into orbit to protect the telescope from heat, will be larger in size. With a length of 22 meters and a width of 10 meters, it is almost equal to a tennis court!

If Ariane 5 was chosen before NASA For the James-Webb launch, this is in particular because at the time of the signing of cooperation agreements between ESA and NASA regarding the JWST program, Ariane 5 was the only one. launcher In service with a hood large enough for this extraordinary telescope. Depending on which satellites will be launched, Ariane 5 has the choice between two fairings. short, who still measures 12.72 meters for a Mass 2.027 tons and a length of 17 meters for 2.9 tons. So the latter, the longest headgear, which will be used for James Webb.

Release date to be confirmed

The James Webb Observatory will be transported by boat to Guyanese Space Center (CSG) from where it will be launched, presumably before the end of the year. A launch date will be revealed after a launch in October that will see Ariane 5 put the SES-17 and Syracuse-4A satellites into orbit.

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Once the JWST is in the CSG, the Arianespace and Nasa team will prepare and configure the observatory for the flight. This includes a complete series of inspections and filling of its tanks defend. Next, the JWST will be installed on the Ariane 5 before being transferred to the ELA 3 launcher of the Ariane 5 launchers.

Remember that at the beginning of the project, the JWST, then known as the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) was scheduled to launch in the early 2000s. And at the time of signing the agreement, during the 2007 Paris Air Show, the James-Webb launch date was set for 2010! NASA and the European Space Agency, through whichCanadian Space AgencyThey have been cooperating with the program since 1997.

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