If all goes as planned, the world’s most ambitious telescope—not just space telescope but any telescope—will launch this week on an Arianspace booster from French Guiana. It will ultimately be deployed at what’s called an L2 Lagrange point about one million miles from Earth’s orbit and sufficiently close to the sun to require a tennis-court sized sun shield to keep the vehicle’s delicate instruments at cryogenic temperatures.

The Webb is an optical telescope designed to conduct observations in the near infrared of objects too distant to be resolved by the earth-orbiting Hubble telescope. The Webb telescope’s mirror is three times larger than the Hubble’s. This video, produced by Northrop Grumman in 2017, details the launch sequence and impressively complex deployment stages. The mission is expected be fully operational some six months after launch. The video details additional technical aspects of the telescope and its components.


  1. The number of things that absolutely must go right in this mass of mechanized origami staggers the imagination. Hope everyone stocked up on Tums!