NASA starts loading fuel for James Webb Space Telescope launch

NASA starts loading fuel for James Webb Space Telescope launch

NASA is loading fuel and oxidizer into the James Webb Space Telescope in the Guiana Space Center ahead of its scheduled December 22 launch.

Teams at the space center in French Guiana are loading 63 gallons of fuel and oxidizer into the $9.7 billion telescope, which is the largest and most powerful telescope ever conceived.

The Webb telescope, an international partnership among NASA and the space agencies of Canada and Europe, will reveal new and unexpected knowledge about our universe.

A “consent to fuel” review held on Nov. 24 gave approval to begin the fuel loading process the next day. It signals that liftoff for the telescope aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket is progressing.

The process will take 10 days to complete, according to NASA, as tams prepare, purge, and pressurize elements within the lower section of the 35-foot-tall observatory.

The spacecraft bus will have 42 gallons of hydrazine and 21 gallons of dinitrogen tetroxide needed to fuel the mission’s 20 rocket thrusters.

Loading the toxic propellants will take happen over several hours in two separate days with ground teams wearing self-contained protective suits.

The Ariane 5 upper stage will contain 14.7 tones of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen needed to deliver a 1,000-second thrust.

The launch of the Webb telescope was delayed from Dec. 18 to Dec. 22 after managers ordered additional testing on the spacecraft.

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