Over about the next two weeks, NASA will provide broadcast coverage, media briefings, and other updates on major deployment milestones for the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful space science telescope.
Broadcasts of milestone events will air live on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Webb, an international partnership with the ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency, launched Dec. 25 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The observatory had been folded up, origami style, to fit inside an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket for launch. Webb is now in the complex and intricate process of unfolding in space, as it travels nearly 1 million miles to its destination, the second Lagrange point or L2.
Webb’s deployment sequence is a human-controlled process that provides the team with the flexibility to pause, assess data, and adjust as needed. The timing and order of all milestones may therefore change. NASA will host live broadcast coverage to mark the following milestones, with specific times and dates updated as they approach:
- Sunshield tensioning: The full deployment of the sunshield, the most challenging element for Webb, will mark a critical milestone for the mission. This step is scheduled for completion about eight days after launch, no earlier than Sunday, Jan. 2.
- Secondary mirror support structure deployment: The support structure that holds the secondary mirror in position to focus light collected by the primary mirror is set for deployment about 10 days after launch, no earlier than Tuesday, Jan. 4.
- Webb deployments complete: With the unfolding of the second of Webb’s primary mirror wings, the Webb team will have completed all observatory deployments. This is scheduled to take place about 13 days after launch, no earlier than Friday, Jan. 7.
NASA Press Briefings
NASA will hold the following media briefings after major deployment milestones:
- A media teleconference as soon as possible after the end of the live broadcast coverage of Webb’s sunshield tensioning, no earlier than Sunday, Jan. 2. To participate by telephone, media must RSVP no later than noon EST Sunday, Jan. 2, to Laura Betz at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A media briefing as soon as possible after the end of the live broadcast coverage of Webb’s final deployments, no earlier than Friday, Jan. 7.
The agency will determine the timing of these briefings as the deployment milestones approach and will stream the events live on its website.
NASA’s media accreditation policy for virtual activities is available online.