Live Blog: Updates on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope historic launch and deployment

Early tomorrow morning, while those who celebrate Christmas will be busy opening gifts, NASA and Arianespace will be launching the most powerful space telescope ever built. Check before for updates on this once-in-a-generation launch.

What is launching and how do we watch it?

Check out our launch spotlight and how to watch articles for details about the Webb and how to find a launch stream.

James Webb launch weather

According to a weather briefing in French Guiana, the weather for tomorrow morning’s launch looks favorable. However, the launch site is a tropical area, so that, of course, can change quickly. Therefore, we won’t know for certain if the weather is GO until closer to liftoff.

James Webb Space Telescope live launch updates

Sunday, January 2

  • NASA has delayed the tensioning of Webb’s sun shield to no earlier than tomorrow.

Saturday, January 1

  • While most of the world was celebrating the New Years Webb controllers extended the port and starbboard sun shield booms. Sounds like teams will take today off then comeback to tension the sun shield into its fully deployed position. This is one of the most important events Webb will do next to deploying of the mirrors in the coming weeks.

Thursday, December 30

  • According to NASA, the sun shield covers have been released and moved into a holding position. This opens the following steps to begin unfurling the sun shield. Tomorrow teams will extend the booms before breaking for New Years Day and tensioning the sun shield on January 2.
  • Early this morning, NASA deployed the aft momentum flap. This event only took about eight minutes and was deployed using springs. This part is important to save on fuel as solar pressure could move the telescope due to its large sun shield. The next deployment is another nail biter, the release of the sun shield covers.

Wednesday, December 29

  • NASA confirmed the deployment of the tower segment; this part holds Webb’s mirrors and other main light-gathering instruments. The tower segment was the only scheduled deployment today and took nearly 6 hours. Next up is the aft momentum flap, which helps cancel any solar pressure on the sun shield.

Tuesday, December 28

  • The JWST team has confirmed the deployment of the aft sun shield pallet. Next on the list of deployments will be the deployable tower segment, the part with the mirrors. Then begins the long process of deploying the sun shield.
  • NASA confirmed the successful deployment of the forward sun shield pallet. It was completed at 1:21 p.m. EST and took about 4 hours. The blog post stated that the team is working towards deploying the aft pallet, but there is no word on when that will start.
  • Today the Webb passed 300,000 miles from Earth. On the docket for today’s deployment is one of the big ones, the forward and aft sun shield pallets. This begins the tennis court-sized sun shield deployment that will last the rest of 2021 and into 2022.

Monday, December 27

  • At 7:20 p.m. EST Webb conducted its second midcourse correction burn. The burn lasted 9 minutes and 27 seconds and was deemed successful. However, the next milestone will be a big one. The forward sun shield pallet will be deployed, one of the critical pieces of equipment for mission success.
  • This afternoon Webb crossed 250,000 miles from Earth. Great milestone for the team while we wait for confirmation of the telescope’s second midcourse correction burn.

Sunday, December 26

  • At 10:00 a.m. EST, Webb controllers began the process of releasing the telescope’s gimbaled antenna assembly and began testing it. Several other sensors were turned on over the night.

Saturday, December 25

  • Per a blog post NASA confirmed the 65 minute first midcourse was started at 7:50 p.m. EST. This was the second of two time criticle milestones, the first was solar panel deployment.
  • Webb should have performed its Midcourse correction burn, but we have not heard a word from NASA officials on its success. It could simply be the communication team having the rest of the weekend off for Christmas.
  • NASA teams have received good telemetry from Webb. The reaction wheels are keeping the spacecraft oriented in the correct position to keep heat and radiation away from the sensitive components.
  • Now the teams at the Telescope Mission Control are in charge to get Webb out to its orbit beyond the Moon.
  • Callout for power positive on the Webb telescope.
  • Webb’s solar pannel is begining to deploy.
  • Confirmation of seperation of the Webb telescope!
  • Shutdown of the rocket’s upper stage. It will now coast for 2 minutes before Webb seperates from the rocket.
  • Webb is now over 200 km in altitude and is about halfway through its second stage burn.
  • 10 minutes into flight and so for only nominal callouts by the launch teams.
  • Shutdown of the Ariane 5 main stage and start up of the second stage!
  • Jetision of the payload fairing!
  • Solid rocket booster seperation.
  • Lift off of James Webb!
  • 1 minute, still green for launch the viewers are leaving the mission control room.
  • 5 minutes and counting.
  • Less than 10 minutes now from launch and board is still green.
  • View of inside Webb’s mission control room in Baltimore.
  • We are now less than 30 minutes from launch of Webb. The board is still green and weather is still looking good.
  • We’re now T-1 hour until launch and the board so far is still green and the Ariane 5 is fully fueled.
  • The offical livestream from NASA started!
  • Good morning everyone, and a Merry Christmas; we are getting close to the 1-hour 20 minutes mark until the James Webb Space Telescope launch. According to the most recent update from NASA, the biggest question, launch weather, still look favorable!

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