Launch Spotlight: Arianespace to launch NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope on an Ariane 5 rocket

This weekend Arianespace will be entrusted to launch NASA’s most expensive and new flagship space telescope. The James Webb Space Telescope launch will be one of the biggest butt-puckering events of Webb’s deployment. The feeling will stay for the following months as the rest of the systems come online and parts of the telescope attempt to deploy. Learn everything about the launch below.

Launch Date: Saturday, December 25, 7:20 a.m. EST

Rocket: Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA

Payload: James Webb Space Telescope

Launch Pad: ELA-3, Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana

Destination: Sun-Earth L2 point

Landing Site: Anywhere but here

What is the Ariane 5 rocket?

Built by Arianespace, Ariane 5 is the heavy-lift rocket of Europe. First launched in 1996, it features a single Volcain engine powered by liquid oxygen and hydrogen. The two large solid rocket boosters on either side of the core stage produce 3.18 million foot-pounds of thrust. In total, the Ariane 5 has launched 111 times with a 95% success rate (something many onlookers wish was higher for Webb).

Why did they choose the Ariane 5 over other vehicles to launch JWST?

The James Webb Space Telescope is an international program shared between NASA, the European, and Canadian space agencies. Part of the partnership was ESA would pay and be in charge of the launch of Webb. Since Arianespace is a European company, sadly the only company in Europe with viable launch vehicles, it was selected for the historic launch.

How to watch Webb launch

Check out this article for full details on watching this once-in-a-generation mission launch. Of course, also stay tuned to Space Explored’s Twitter for updates.

Featured Image: Bill Ingalls / NASA

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