A hint at what’s to come.
After at least a half dozen delays, it’s looking more likely that the James Webb Space Telescope will actually launch in 2021.
On December 14, the ESA announced that its crews completed one of the final steps before launch: placing the folded-up telescope atop the Ariane 5 rocket that will take it to space.
The next step will be to enclose Webb inside Ariane’s fairing — the upper panels on the rocket that will reduce drag and protect the telescope as it pushes through Earth’s atmosphere.
Ariane 5 rockets have been used to carry other important missions to space, such as the ESA’s BepiColumbo, a flyby mission to Mercury.
Once the rocket takes off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, it will carry the telescope about 930,000 miles away from Earth to its observation point.