The upcoming James Webb Space Telescope will be deployed beyond the atmosphere to aim its next-gen gears towards the wonders of the Universe. The telescope will replace the over three-decade-old Hubble. One of Webb’s goals is to study the formation of the “big stuff” out there, such as galaxies, stars, and planets.
But we all know how things go in astronomy. Whether we like it or not, it doesn’t always go as planned. All of the effort, knowledge, time, and money invested in James Webb Space Telescope’s creation can become history rapidly if something malfunctions. There’s no wonder why there are many people sceptical about the future mission.
The launch itself is risky
A new article from Ars Technica reveals the comments of Thomas Zurbuchen, who’s the associate administrator for scientific missions at NASA. He explained:
For most missions, launch contributes the majority of mission risk,
If the spacecraft is in space, most risk is behind us.
Zurbuchen analyses the risks of the James Webb Telescope’s launch within a blog post.
Once it reaches outer space, Webb will have to travel farther than the Moon – all the way to the L2 Lagrange Point. Along with its travel and once arrived, the telescope will need 50 deployments to prepare for the scientific observations.
Zuburchen also stated, as quoted by Ars Technica:
Those who are not worried or even terrified about this are not understanding what we are trying to do,
We have worked hard to build the team for this task and it has been a tough journey at times. This mission has a very troubled story with chapters that were disappointing, or even baffling. We are where we are because Webb has some of the best engineers and leaders I have ever met, and they have continued when others were ready to give up.