The James Webb Space Telescope, a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, lifted off Saturday from a spaceport near the Equator in Kourou, French Guiana for an orbit around the sun. Texas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, praised the successful launch in a press release.
“Today’s successful launch of the James Webb Space Telescope marks a historic milestone in our advancement of astrophysics and space science,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. “After two decades in development and painstaking work, this incredible observatory is on its way to transforming our understanding of the early universe and much more. I would like to send my heartfelt congratulations to NASA, Northrop Grumman, our international partners, and the entire James Webb Telescope team on today’s success. While there is much work ahead as the observatory undertakes the ‘29 days on edge’ deployment and its million-mile journey to orbit, getting to this point is a milestone to celebrate. I wish NASA and the international and contractor partners the best of luck in its continuing efforts as we look forward to the observatory’s future science operations.”
Throughout the next month, the telescope will undergo its complex deployment process as it travels nearly one million miles to its destination in space. The main goals of Webb’s mission include searching for the first galaxies formed in the universe, observing the formation of stars, building our understanding of the evolution of galaxies, and measuring physical and chemical properties of planetary systems. JWST is an international collaboration among the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The Webb will examine all of cosmic history, billions of years of it, astronomers say — from the first stars to life in the solar system. This week, the NASA administrator Bill Nelson called the telescope a “keyhole into the past.”
“It is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we dream big,” he said. After the launch he said, “It’s a great day for planet Earth.”