After over two decades of planning and production, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, has been completed.
The JWST was built by NASA in partnership with the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency. This marks the end of the final stage of construction, the assmbly of the gold-plated reflector, which began in early 2015.
After years of proposals, funding for the JWST was given to NASA in 2002 with the goal of a 2010 launch. After years of delays and cost overruns, funding was nearly pulled from the project in 2005 despite $800 million already spent on the project. This pattern of missed deadlines and budget shortcomings continued into the following decade, with construction having not even begun by the original 2010 launch date.
The JWST will allow researchers to study details of the universe, like black holes and dark matter, in new ways due to its massive size compared to the Hubble.
With construction finally finished, the telescope will now enter a years-long testing phase. It will undergo launch simulations for two months in Maryland where it was assembled before being sent to Houston and later Redondo Beach, CA, for further testing and launch preparations. The launch is planned for Oct. 2018 in Kourou, French Guiana.