New photos show James Webb telescope standing at Arianespace’s processing facility

The new flagship telescope for NASA and its partnering nations is preparing to launch beyond the Moon from French Guiana. The James Webb telescope is now seen at Arianespace’s clean room getting ready for launch vehicle integration.

James Webb vertical in Arianespace’s clean room

New photos of the telescope show that it is currently vertical inside the processing facility down in French Guiana. The telescope arrived in South American on October 12. Shortly after arriving, the telescope was powered on and tested to see how it faired during transit.

The newest telescope will continue checkouts as it is integrated within the Ariane 5’s payload fairings. Arianespace is preparing to launch the rocket as soon as December 18, a refreshing thought after the project’s notorious delays.

Naming controversy

Earlier this year, industry and community members signed a petition to move NASA to change the telescope’s name. This is over the interrogations and firings of LGBTQ+ employees at NASA while the telescope’s namesake was the agency’s administrator. NASA investigated the matter but has kept its findings shrouded in secrecy. Today NASA’s Science Mission Directorate will host a town hall meeting with researchers and agency members to discuss the future of its research. The top three questions submitted to the meeting all ask for details about deciding not to rename the telescope. Whether or not NASA will take these questions is unknown.

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