NASA and ESA tech geeks posted an 'unboxing' of the Hubble telescope's successor

Technology 16-10-2021 Mashable 64

Is there anything more relatable to the tech-lovers of the internet than the thrill of tearing open the packaging on the latest, shiniest gadget? NASA and the European Space Agency get it.

On Friday, the Twitter account for Ariane 5, an ESA launch vehicle, shared a series of "unboxing" photos for the James Webb Space Telescope. For those who might not know, that's the powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been peering into the furthest reaches of space since 1990.

In December, Ariane 5 will carry the new space telescope into orbit where it will bring its fancier optical technology to bear on the same kinds of tasks that Hubble once handled on its own. While it's a big moment for space research, the future satellite has been dogged by controversy due to its connection to Webb, a former NASA administrator who presided over the federal agency in the '50s and '60s when gay and lesbian employees faced discrimination there.

That controversy hasn't slowed down the launch plans, or led to a name change. But the concerns some have voiced continue to loom large as the Dec. 18 launch approaches. One NASA adviser even quit over their dissatisfaction with the agency's handling of naming concerns.

Tweet may have been deleted
Tweet may have been deleted

These photos nonetheless offer a fascinating look behind the scenes at how a massive and wildly expensive piece of space tech like this is transported. At roughly the size of a tractor trailer, the $10 billion satellite isn't exactly the easiest thing to ship.

SEE ALSO: NASA snaps a vivid image of an extremely energetic galaxy

The James Webb Space Telescope is currently set for its one-way trip to outer space to launch on Dec. 18, 2021. Although construction was completed in 2016, the launch has been delayed multiple times, first for further testing and later as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For now, all indications are that the December launch will proceed as planned, barring any of the usual temporary weather hiccups that often disrupt space launch plans.


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