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James Webb Telescope Construction is Halfway Complete

posted: 12/28/15
by: Danny Clemens
JWT Construction
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Gunn

Nine of the James Webb Telescope's 18 flight mirrors have been installed, marking the halfway point in the powerful space telescope's construction, NASA announced today.

The agency's engineers are utilizing a large robotic arm to set the mirrors in place. Each mirror measures 4.2 feet and weighs approximately 88 pounds. When completely installed, the series of 18 smaller segments will form the telescope's 21-foot primary mirror.

"The years of planning and practicing is really paying dividends and the progress is really rewarding for everyone to see," Optical Telescope Element Manager Lee Feinberg remarks in a news release.

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A collaboration between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency, the $8.8 billion James Webb Telescope is the most powerful space telescope ever built. Upon its expected 2018 launch, James Webb will supplant the aging Hubble Space Telescope, which is expected to operate through the 2020s.

The James Webb Telescope is the subject of Telescope, an upcoming Discovery Channel documentary detailing NASA's mission to build the most powerful telescope in history and reveal the deepest secrets of the universe.

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