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TWIRL 44: One last delay for JWST, now set for Christmas Eve launch [Update]

The James Webb Space Telescope next to the TWIRL logo
Background image credit: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez

It’s set to be a big week in space launches this week as Arianespace finally launches NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) into space. The JWST launch has received one last delay with it launching on Christmas Eve rather than December 22. The space telescope has been under construction for the last 25 years and among the discoveries, it could find signs of life on other planets. The telescope is so sensitive that will be able to uncover the atmospheres of exoplanets – this technique could be used to find probable life-hosting planets.

Tuesday, December 21

The first launch of the week will take off from Florida. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will carry the SpaceX Dragon 2 capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) where it will dock to deliver an operational cargo delivery mission. Aboard the craft are also two experiments, STP-H7 and STP-H8. This mission is set to launch at 10:06 a.m. UTC and should be available to watch on SpaceX’s website or YouTube channel.

The second launch of the day is a Japanese H-IIA (H-2A) rocket. It will launch from the Tanegashima Space Center between 2:33 p.m. and 4:33 p.m. UTC. It will be carrying the Inmarsat 6 F1 satellite into orbit. The satellite has been described as the most technologically advanced and largest commercial communications satellite ever launched. You can find a live stream of the launch below.

Friday, December 24

The third and final launch of the week is an Ariane 5 ECA+ rocket carrying the James Webb Space Telescope. The mission will launch from French Guyana between 12:20 p.m. and 3:20 p.m. UTC and will put JWST into a halo orbit around Lagrange point 2. To see how the mission will pan out, check out the Northrop Grumman video below. Once JWST begins operations it should provide us with a lot of new information about the universe.


The first launch last week was the Proton-M rocket carrying the Ekspress AMU3 and Ekspress AMU7 satellites from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The satellites will provide communications services such as digital television, telephony, video conferencing, internet access, and more.

Next up was a Long March-3B rocket which carried the TianLian-2 02 satellite into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The satellite will join a larger constellation that can transmit data from the Chinese Space Station to the mission control center.

On December 18, SpaceX launched 52 Starlink satellites that will connect up to the huge Starlink constellation to provide internet connectivity on Earth.

Finally, earlier today, SpaceX used a Falcon 9 to launch Turksat-5B, a communications satellite designed for military and commercial purposes.

Update: Not unsurprisingly, JWST has been delayed until Christmas day.

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