James Webb Space Telescope arrives in French Guiana ahead of December launch

James Webb Space Telescope arrives in French Guiana.

After a secretive voyage from California (to avoid pirates) the James Webb Space Telescope has safely arrived in French Guiana aboard MN Colibri.

James Webb Space Telescope

The James Webb Space Telescope is a next-generation space telescope. Its wider field of view and larger array of mirrors will allow it to capture more light over a larger area than Hubble is capable of.

The long-delayed launch was supposed to occur in March but was further delayed as a result of Covid-19.

The core stage, upper stage, and fairings for the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch the space telescope arrived in French Guiana around the start of September. The launch will occur from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana on December 19.

James Webb Space Telescope arrives in Kourou

NASA, the ESA, and the CSA never planned to be very public about the transportation of the telescope. Transporting the $10 billion telescope is tricky business. In addition to the general logistical challenges of transporting such a large a relatively fragile piece of equipment, the telescope is a high-risk target for pirates. Informational regarding the shipment of the telescope was kept relatively quiet as the ship passed through the Panama Canal. Security measures were not discussed, as a matter of “security through obscurity.”

Sea-based space (telescope) pirates could have jeopardized the mission by holding the telescope for ransom.

Fortunately, the telescope safely arrived off the coast of Kourou aboard MN Colibri. The telescope will be offloaded at Port de Pariacabo. The telescope will make the short journey to the Guiana Space Center before being installed in the fairing and integrated onto the Ariane 5 rocket for launch.

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