James Webb went into space on December 24 in a “absolutely perfect” launch, according to Arianespace’s president, Stefan Israel, the company responsible for take-off on the Ariane F.
The European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA said today in their social media accounts that, after analyzing its initial trajectory, they decided that the observatory “must have sufficient motivation to support scientific operations in orbit for more than 10 years of useful life.”
The person who would be the legendary successor of Hubble had to resort to thrust, as planned, after the launch and on the 25th and 27th of course correction maneuvers towards its final location, 1.5 million km from Earth.
NASA noted on its website that the analysis shows that “less thrust fuel than originally planned” is needed to correct the path toward its final orbit around L2.
As a result, “Webb will have much more than a base fuel estimate, although many factors can ultimately affect the duration of the process.”
Due to the point from which the new telescope will be operating, it needs to be pushed not only at some points in its flight, but also periodically to correct and maintain the orbit and direction in space correctly, once it reaches L2.
When the fuel runs out, it will not be possible to do this and the job will be done. The minimum rule is five years, although experts considered it feasible until a decade ago, and now, with real payment usage data, they estimate that it can work “more than a decade”.
The additional fuel available for the largest and most powerful telescope ever launched into space is “largely due to” launch accuracy” that “exceeded requirements” to put Webb on the right track, and from his first maneuver, NASA explained.
“The perfect injection of Ariane 5 will give Webb more life, and therefore more time to discover the universe,” Arianespace president said on Twitter today.