Thanks to the perfect performance of the Arian 5 rocket, the lifespan of the James Webb Telescope was doubled
Last weekend, two surprisingly positive news items were published about the James Webb Space Telescope. The first news that ended two weeks of panic was the telescope’s smooth opening. Reaching Lagrangian point 2 and calibrating scientific instruments are the next steps towards starting scientific activities that are less stressful for telescope operators.
The second positive news, which is still important despite less coverage, was announced at a news conference on Saturday. Michael HomeNASA’s mission systems engineer for James Webb said the organization has completed its analysis of the excess fuel remaining in the telescope. Overall, the house said James Webb has enough fuel for 20 years. This number is twice the conservative estimate before launch. The life of James Webb is largely due to the performance of the European Arian 5 rocket, which managed to launch the telescope in the right direction on Christmas day.
Prior to launch, the telescope was refueled with 240 liters of hydrazine fuel and dinitrogen oxide oxidizer. Part of this fuel was needed to correct the route during the trip to Lagrangian point 2 in space. James Webb will conduct his scientific work at this point, which is 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The remaining fuel will be used in the telescope’s final circuit around Lagrangian point 2 to maintain orbital position.
As a result, every kilogram of fuel stored during James Webb’s trip to the Lagrangian point can be used to extend the life of the spacecraft there. Because 10 years seemed a relatively short operating period for such an expensive and powerful telescope, NASA was already thinking about carrying out a costly and dangerous mission of refueling with a robotic spacecraft. However, this is no longer necessary; Because James Webb can live at least two decades.
Thanks to the valuable Arian 5 rocket, the telescope has reached the age of 20 years. More than a decade ago, NASA and the European Space Agency agreed to use the Arian 5 safe rocket to launch James Webb into space. In return for this important task, European scientists will have some time to use the telescope.
Rudiger AlbatIn an interview with the Interstellar Podcast, Arian 5’s program director explained how European rocket scientists were able to launch James. Each Arian launcher is interchangeable and can launch various missions; But the engineers and technicians involved in the production of missiles know which parts will be suitable for which missile; As a result, when they were making a piece of James Webb, they would probably say, “I’ll look again” to make sure it was the best possible piece.
The Arian 5 program also selected the best parts for James Webb based on pre-flight tests. For example, the engineers used a main engine for the James Webb rocket, which performed precisely, especially during the tests. “It was one of the best Volcano engines ever built,” Albat said.
Engineers took a similar approach to other elements; Including solid fuel rocket engines used to build Arian 5. Albat admitted that the days leading up to the launch were exhausting and stressful; But shortly after launch, with James Webb flying and launching into space, he and the entire European space community were able to take pride. “I feel completely calm now,” Albat added. Countless scientists who have watched James’s work for two decades can feel the same way.