James Webb Space Telescope working towards December launch, new SpaceX Starship render & more top stories

This week, the target launch date for the James Webb Space telescope was announced, SpaceX released a new render of Starship Super Heavy, and Inspiration4 works toward launch.

James Webb Space Telescope

A joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, the James Webb Space Telescope will be launching this December. The telescope has been in progress for many years and will be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. With a much larger mirror, and being in a more advantageous position (the Lagrange point L2) it will gather more light from distant dim objects.

Credit: ESA / Arianespace

The satellite will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. The core stage, fairings, and second stage of the Ariane 5 vehicle have arrived in French Guiana in preparation for the launch from the Guiana Space Center.

New Starship Super Heavy render

SpaceX’s new render.

SpaceX’s latest render of the Starship Super Heavy launch vehicle showcased the design changes to the vehicle. The render featured smaller windows and smaller forward flaps on Starship. The Super Heavy booster has fixed grid fins with a design matching their current prototypes. They also removed the fins and legs from the booster and had a more accurate representation of the thermal protection system. The Raptor engines on the booster are also now visible in this latest render.

NASA exploration

This week, NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully acquired its first sample. The rock sample has been sealed in a tube for recovery on a future mission. This successful attempt comes after the first sample capture attempt crumbled. The rover will go on to collect up to 43 more samples.

While NASA’s Mars helicopter Ingenuity has completed over 13 flights, it seems like China is working towards its own Mars helicopter. In a press release from China’s National Space Science Center, they shared a photo of their own ‘Mars patrol drone’ that looks suspiciously similar to Ingenuity.

This wasn’t the only exploration of Mars. Almost 300 new images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter were released. The latest batch of images included high-quality images from the HiRISE imaging system featuring the craters and sand dunes across Mars.

While there has already been a lot of exploration of the solar system, we are far from over. NASA’s Lucy mission, launching this October, will explore asteroids in order to study the formation and evolution of our solar system.

Space on Netflix

Space and space exploration have been reaching a wider audience through Netflix recently. A TIME documentary series on Inspiration4 released its first two episodes last week. Inspiration4 is the all civilian spaceflight launching later this week. The first two episodes explored the crew selection process. The crew consists of Jared Isaacman, Hayley Arceneaux, Dr. Sian Proctor, and Chris Sembroski. They will be launch in a SpaceX Dragon capsule to orbit the Earth for three days. They also have an auction of items flying with them supporting St. Jude.

Netflix is also sharing a fictional view of spaceflight. The first trailer for ‘Don’t Look Up’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence turned some heads this week.

Credit: Netflix

The unrealistic number of rockets launching simultaneously alongside the Shuttle drew some criticism, but certainly seems to be an intriguing scene.

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