James Webb Space Telescope’s Smooth Launch Extended Its Life Expectancy, NASA Says

The James Webb Space Telescope should be able to remain in orbit for more than 10 years, thanks to a fuel-efficient launch on Christmas Day, according to NASA. From a report: The telescope was carried aboard the Arianespace Ariane 5. Despite two brief midcourse corrections, its launch used less propellant than initially expected. That will allow the $10 billion observatory “science operations in orbit for significantly more than a 10-year science lifetime,” the US space agency said in a release on Wednesday The first midcourse correction was a relatively minor, 65-minute post-launch burn, which bumped up the telescope’s speed by approximately 45 miles per hour. Another smaller correction on Dec. 27 added an additional 6.3 mph. That added boost also allowed the JWST’s solar array to unfold about a minute and a half after it separated from the Ariane 5, just 29 minutes after launch. The array was coded to automatically deploy either when the observatory reached a certain altitude or 33 minutes after launch, whichever came first.

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