When Is James Webb Telescope Launch Date, As NASA Observatory Arrives at Lift-Off Site?

On Tuesday, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) arrived in the territory of French Guiana in preparation for its launch from Europe's Spaceport.

JWST, which is considered the successor to the pioneering Hubble Space Telescope, reached the territory—an overseas region of France—after completing a 16-day, 5,800-mile journey from California to Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River via the Panama Canal.

The telescope, developed by NASA in collaboration with the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency (CSA,) is the world's largest and most powerful space observatory.

Once deployed, James Webb will be able to conduct observations that will provide fascinating new insights into our solar system, exoplanets orbiting distant stars, and the mysterious origins and structures of our universe.

"The James Webb Space Telescope is a colossal achievement, built to transform our view of the universe and deliver amazing science," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

"Webb will look back over 13 billion years to the light created just after the Big Bang, with the power to show humanity the farthest reaches of space that we have ever seen. We are now very close to unlocking mysteries of the cosmos, thanks to the skills and expertise of our phenomenal team."

When is the James Webb Telescope launch date?

Currently, NASA, ESA, and the CSA are targeting December 18, 2021, for the JWST launch. If conditions are right, lift-off could take place between 8:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. local time (7:45 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST.)

But if problems arise—related to the weather, technical issues, or other factors—then the launch could be moved to another date.

The JWST will be blasted into space aboard a French Ariane 5 rocket before it is ejected around 30 minutes into the mission. The telescope will then travel a distance of around 930,000 miles away from Earth over the course of a month in order to reach its chosen observation point.

From now until the launch date, the telescope will undergo rigorous preparations to ensure that it is mission-ready.

"Webb's arrival at the launch site is a momentous occasion," Gregory Robinson, JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said in a statement. "We are very excited to finally send the world's next great observatory into deep space."

"Webb has crossed the country and traveled by sea. Now it will take its ultimate journey by rocket one million miles from Earth, to capture stunning images of the first galaxies in the early universe that are certain to transform our understanding of our place in the cosmos."

Newsweek has contacted NASA for comment.

James Webb Space Telescope in French Guiana
The MN Colibri arrived at Port de Pariacabo on the Kourou River in French Guiana on October 12 carrying NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope as cargo. NASA/Chris Gunn