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Webb space telescope en route to the stars

By Eric Van Rees - 19th October 2021 - 08:21

Last stop, Kourou. The Webb Space Telescope (WST) has arrived at the European space port in Kourou, French Guiana.

The spacecraft will now be prepared for its launch, scheduled for 18th December on an Ariane 5 launcher. One of the four instruments in its scientific suitcase is the Near InfraRed Spectrograph (NIRSpec) built by Airbus in Germany.

Prior to launch, a complete functional test campaign will be carried out in October to make sure that every part of the spacecraft is still working as expected following its journey to Kourou. Airbus will actively support the final electrical functional tests of the four science instruments (including NIRSpec) that will last approximately six days.

“The Webb telescope will change the way we see the Universe,” said Jean Marc Nasr, Head of Airbus Space Systems. “Our contributions to NIRSpec and MIRI instruments are a testament to Airbus’ expertise and the value we can bring to modern astronomy. We are proud to have played a key part in the future discoveries of the Webb mission.”

Once in orbit, Webb will begin a month long journey, travelling four times the distance to the Moon, until it reaches its final destination, the Lagrange point L2, some 1.5 million km behind the Earth as viewed from the Sun.

Airbus will support NIRSpec from launch to commissioning (until the second quarter of 2022) by monitoring its parameters 24/7. This includes the period during the critical cool-down phase and then the initial functional testing when the NIRSpec instrument is turned on. Finally the Airbus engineering team will also continue to support during performance check out and calibration until the end of commissioning.

Read More: Satellite Imaging Aerospace

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