When constructed, the James Webb Space Telescope (or JWST for short) is scheduled for launch in 2018. When it does, it will be the largest and most complex orbital telescope ever constructed, with a 6.5 m primary mirror giving it an aperture size around 7 times as great as the faithful old Hubble Space Telescope. Shielded from sunlight by a sunshield 22 m x 12 m in size, the JWST will gaze into the Universe in infrared. It’s been a long time coming, first recommended 16 years ago as the logical successor to Hubble, the first of its brand new mirrors were delivered to NASA this week.
Each mirror segment measures around 1.3 m in diameter and weighs 40 kg. These are some of the most clearly reflective and pristine surfaces in the whole world.
Make no mistake. The JWST will make some tremendous discoveries and it will see things which we have only speculated about up until now. I’m quite confident it will also see some things which we never even imagined. After all, every new space telescope has, and none have been nearly as grandiose as the JWST!