Dec 11, 2021

After 10 Days of Dangerous, Careful Work, James Webb has Been Fully Fueled up

Posted by in category: satellites

After many MANY delays, the James Webb Space Telescope is fully-fueled and ready for the final stage of preparations before launch (still on for Dec. 22nd)!

On Oct. 12th, 2021, after years of waiting and cost overruns, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) finally arrived safely at Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The crews began unboxing the next-generation observatory and getting it ready for integration with the Ariane 5 rocket that will take it to space. Then, an “incident” occurred where a clamp band suddenly released, sending vibrations throughout the facility. Once again, the JWST’s launch date was pushed back while crews investigated the source of the problem.

But lo and behold, the due diligence is now done, and the James Webb is back on track! According to the latest news from the ESA, crews have finished fueling the JWST’s thrusters in preparation for its launch, which is scheduled for Dec. 22nd. The Webb will use these thrusters to make course corrections after separating from the Ariane 5 rocket in orbit, maintaining its prescribed orbit, and repointing the observatory during operations.

The process took place in a dedicated fuelling hall at the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) and took ten days to complete (from Nov. 23rd to Dec. 3rd). The reason it takes so long is that fuelling a satellite requires extensive setup and preparation. Equipment and connections need to be set up in advance, safety protocols must be followed to the letter, and the fuel tanks must be pressurized.

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