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James Webb Launch planned for Christmas Launch

22 december 2021

Watch the launch live from ESA Web TV: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multim...

ESA and NASA will be broadcasting live as the James Webb Space Telescope is launched to space on ESA’s Ariane 5 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana at 12:20 GMT / 13:20 CET on Saturday 25 December.

This mission is the culmination of decades of meticulous planning and international cooperation between ESA, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. 

Webb will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. It is the next great space science observatory following Hubble, designed to answer outstanding questions about the Universe and to make breakthrough discoveries in all fields of astronomy. 

As part of the international collaboration agreement, ESA is providing the telescope’s launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. Working with partners, ESA was responsible for the development and qualification of Ariane 5 adaptations for the Webb mission.


The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) will be the largest, most powerful telescope ever launched into space. Webb’s flight into orbit will take place on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. As part of the international collaboration agreement, ESA is providing the observatory’s launch service.

The Webb launch campaign of almost 70 days involves a team of more than 100 experts hosted at Europe’s Spaceport. NASA is highly involved, working closely with ESA towards launch.

Webb is large. Though the observatory weighs only six tonnes, it is more than 10.5 m high and almost 4.5 m wide in the folded position. Its shipping container is 30 m long, and with equipment included weighs more than 70 tonnes. Because of this, Webb will come to French Guiana by sea, crossing the Panama Canal to dock in Pariacabo harbour in Kourou. From here, it will be transported by a dedicated truck to Europe’s Spaceport. Ground equipment will arrive by sea and air from around the United States.

The cleanliness requirements are so high that a tent 12.5 m high and 12 m wide will be placed over Webb inside the cleanroom itself, purged at all times with extremely pure air to remove any contamination. Whenever this tent is removed, walls of filters will take over and fans will be switched on. In addition, the fairing and other rocket parts close to Webb will be treated specially to ensure cleanliness.

From liftoff until separation, CNES Launch Range services will track Ariane 5 from ground stations in Kourou, in Ascension Island (South Atlantic), Natal (Brazil), Libreville (Gabon) and Malindi (Kenya).

Immediately after Webb separates from the rocket, ESA's tracking station network, ESTRACK, will follow the Early Orbit Phase operations using its Malindi ground station in collaboration with NASA’s station network.

Webb is an international partnership between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).



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