NASA James Webb Telescope Achieves Optical Alignment


We’ve followed the James Webb Telescope quite religiously since we learned that launch was imminent.

satellite flying on space
Photo by NASA

With planning that started in the 1990s, it’s no exaggeration to say that we weren’t sitting around holding our breath waiting. But, with a successful launch in December, we’re all on board and we simply can’t get enough of the James Webb Telescope which, according to NASA, just completed optical alignment, bringing it one step closer to full functionality.

What does that mean?

It is a “key stage in the commissioning of Webb’s Optical Telescope Element, every optical parameter that has been checked and tested is performing at, or above, expectations.”

Further, “The team also found no critical issues and no measurable contamination or blockages to Webb’s optical path. The observatory is able to successfully gather light from distant objects and deliver it to its instruments without issue.”

When can we expect to start seeing some pictures? Well, we’ve seen some preliminary stuff already but, as long as everything goes according to plan, we will see some real output this summer according to the team at NASA. Interestingly, even though the James Telescope took quite some time to finally launch, it could provide a blueprint for future missions.

Commenting from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the Webb optical telescope element manager Lee Feinberg told NASA’s blog, “In addition to enabling the incredible science that Webb will achieve, the teams that designed, built, tested, launched, and now operate this observatory have pioneered a new way to build space telescopes.”

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