About this ArticleM. Stiavelli (mstiavel[at]stsci.edu) and K. Pontoppidan (kpontoppi[at]stsci.edu)
These are exciting times for the James Webb Space Telescope mission at STScI. An Ariane 5 rocket, provided by the European Space Agency, gave astronomers worldwide a marvelous present. A flawless launch on Christmas morning, followed by two successful Mid-Course Correction (MCC1a and MCC1b) burns, sent Webb toward the L2 Lagrangian point with a nominal expenditure of fuel. This ensures that we have enough on-board fuel to support more than 10 years of science operations.
Several busy days followed launch, culminating in the critical deployment and tensioning of the five-layer sunshield, needed to keep the telescope and instruments cold. At the time of writing, the successful deployment of the secondary mirror had taken place. The deployment of the mirror and alignment of the optical telescope element will follow, which leads into instrument commissioning. These activities are planned to take a total of six months and will culminate in the release of the first public images and the start of the Cycle 1 science program. We cannot wait to see what discoveries Webb has in store for us this summer!