One year from today, our knowledge of the cosmos could dramatically change (if all goes according to plan)

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If you thought that landing Curiosity on Mars was difficult, it’s a cakewalk compared to the complexity of getting the James Webb telescope up and running.

While it will be revolutionary if it works, unlike Hubble there’s no repair capability when it’s stationed way beyond earth orbit, and so many things have to go right.

I will admit, I fear that Astronomers may have invested too many of their eggs in one very risky basket.

But perhaps that’s the only way you get science done nowadays. One way or another, I’ll be holding my breath and crossing every finger when it gets launched.


James Webb is the epitome of “Go Big or Go Home”.

IMHO the biggest danger to it isn’t technical but political. It’s been on the knife edge of being another Superconducting Supercollider. Cancelled by the whims of politicians because they only see the price tag and don’t appreciate the science. Also because the initial cost estimates were wildly optimistic which makes the management look incompetent and casts a shadow over the project.

It will be interesting if the JWST ends up needing in-orbit servicing in a few years if we could add capability to Starship to do the job. I guess it depends on what is needed. If it’s replacing failed electronics and gyros it might well be possible, assuming the JWST isn’t built in a way that makes it totally impossible.


Oh, man… I was hoping this was an announcement for a second season of Cosmos…


Fly you tennis court sized foil ball, FLY!


Bear in mind that it will take JWST about 6 months to reach L2, its operating orbit around the Sun, to deploy and to commission all its instruments. Only then will we know if it will all work as intended and can start taking the data that could change our view of the universe.

Also, since it is at L2, 1.5 million km away - much further than the Moon - crewed servicing and upgrade missions are out of the question.


The bright spot about L2 is that unlike the planets, it doesn’t really move relative to the earth. So so a launch delay doesn’t make the mission more difficult or nigh impossible, as can easily happen with missions to the outer planets where one relies upon gravity assist from closer planets to get there.
Edited to add: Too bad it looks like it is too far from the Earth to be permanently shadowed, which would make keeping it cool easier.

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