It’s been a long time coming.  Finally, after years of delays and billions of dollars in budget overruns, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is ready to fly.  To celebrate the occasion, ESA released a video showing the “unboxing” of one of the most highly advanced technical achievements in human history.  It is truly as impressive as it sounds.

JWST is getting ready for its launch from an ESA’s Spaceport in French Guiana.  As part of that process, the telescope was shipped over the ocean via a specially designed container.  That same container was then loaded onto a heavy load tractor-trailer, which then had to navigate the streets from Pariacabo harbor to the Spaceport’s cleanroom.

The official ESA video of the JWST being moved into its flight configuration.

Once in the cleanroom, over 100 specialists helped unpackage the system and load it onto a rig that set it upright – the configuration that it will be in when loaded onto the Arianne 5 rocket that will take it on its journey to the L2 Lagrange point in less than two months.  Even still packed in its flight configuration, the telescope looks spectacular, and the video truly gives a sense of the scale of the telescope that some other media have lacked.

Standing at 10.5m high and 4.5m wide, the telescope itself weighs 6 tons.  Even so, it was dwarfed by its shipping container, which was 30m wide and weighed 70 tons.  From the cleanroom, JWST will be loaded onto a rocket fairing and transported again to the spaceport for launch. There are still many steps that have to go right before the telescope collects any valuable data, but this video shows the progress that has been made.  Now, this long-awaited addition to humanity’s astronomy arsenal is finally, discernibly, on its way to space.

An Artist's Conception of the James Webb Space Telescope in space.
An Artist’s Conception of the James Webb Space Telescope in space.
Credit: ESA.

Learn More:
ESA – Webb unboxed in cleanroom at Europe’s Spaceport
UT – I Could Look at James Webb Unboxing Pictures all Day
UT – James Webb’s 30 Days of Terror
UT – Pencil December 18th (tentatively) into your calendar. That’s when James Webb probably launches

Lead Image:
Part of the JWST unboxing in ESA’s Spaceport’s cleanroom
Credit – ESA

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