Following its Christmas Day launch, the James Webb Space Telescope is now more than 750,000 miles from Earth and about 150,000 miles from its destination orbit, which it’s scheduled to reach toward the end of this month.
When the highly advanced observatory fires up for the first time this summer to begin to begin its exploration of deep space, potentially grand discoveries await that could lead to a new understanding of the universe and our place within it.
The Webb team
With Webb’s crucial sunshield and mirror deployments now complete, NASA has released a short video (below) featuring some of the Webb team members talking about their experiences of working on the mission.
The video was recorded before Webb lifted off, with several of the contributors speaking from the launch site in French Guiana. The footage also shows the team preparing and testing the telescope prior to sending it to space.
Before the exciting @NASAWebb launch, we caught up with some of the Webb team to share their experiences working on NASA’s newest space telescope both throughout the U.S. and all the way to launch in tropical Kourou, French Guiana! pic.twitter.com/5aemxQ6UaZ
— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) January 12, 2022
An astonishing 10,000 people are estimated to have worked on the James Webb Space Telescope mission over the years, with experts from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency all contributing to the ambitious project.
In the video, several of the team members reveal how they’ve been working on the $10 billion mission for more than a decade, with others noting the numerous delays that beset the effort.
“It’s mostly a very surreal experience being on the project for as long as it’s been, and going through a lot of ups and downs and delays,” said NASA contamination control engineer Colette Lepage, adding: “It’s just so amazing to be here now the day before launch, it almost doesn’t seem real.”
Another NASA engineer, Alan Abeel, commented: “This project has been a long time coming and it’s been a wonderful collaboration between several international organizations sharing a common mission.” Abeel described the mission as a “demonstration of what humanity can do when we come together with a common purpose for the betterment of all humankind.”
In the team’s own words, the Webb mission will endeavor to “observe the universe’s first galaxies, reveal the birth of stars and planets, and look for exoplanets with the potential for life.”
For a detailed look at the mission, check out Digital Trends’ article telling you all you need to know.