Arianespace’s future role in launching the most powerful space telescope ever developed is being highlighted as part of World Science Festival in New York, where a full-scale mockup of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope is on display.
An Ariane 5 will be used to orbit this massive space-based observatory, which is scheduled for liftoff from the Spaceport in 2014. The telescope’s mockup is being displayed in New York’s Battery Park, where the display is accompanied by interactive exhibits and video presentations.
As part of the Festival’s opening activities, Jacques Breton, Arianespace’s Senior Vice President, Sales & Customers, was on hand to discuss Ariane 5’s ability to loft the James Webb Space Telescope as the benchmark heavy-lift vehicle for the launch services industry. (In the photo at right, Breton is interviewed by a radio reporter from Fox News).
At a luncheon attended today by senior leaders for the telescope program, Breton noted Arianespace’s proven track record in launching other important space exploration payloads.
“We have experience with programs such as the Rosetta comet-chasing mission, which we delivered to Earth-escape orbit in March 2004; and the largest space telescope currently in operation – Herschel – was launched to the Lagrange point by Arianespace last year,” he said. “We’ve also performed other missions on behalf of ESA for NASA, like the TOPEX-Poseidon ocean-mapping satellite.”
Built by Northrop Grumman, the telescope is designed to find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe. Its large 6.5-meter mirror and protective sunshield (which is the size of a tennis court) will be folded for the spacecraft’s installation under Ariane 5’s payload fairing at liftoff. After deployment by the launcher, the observatory will operate in an elliptical orbit around the Earth’s second Lagrange point (L2).
The James Webb Space Telescope program is an international collaboration between the U.S. NASA space agency, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development, and once in orbit, the telescope will be operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute.
In concluding his luncheon remarks, Breton underscored the global importance of this multi-national space observatory. “Its instruments are sourced from all over Europe, Canada, and the United States, and are engaging the best science and engineering talents in those nations,” he stated. “Surely, the hardware of the James Webb Space Telescope will allow us to see aspects of our universe that we never dreamed we would see. The James Webb Space Telescope program is uniting the world’s space community. Together, we will be able to gaze at the extreme outer boundaries of our universe.”