Most powerful telescope ever built blasts off into space (VIDEO) — Analysis

On Saturday, the James Webb Space Telescope was launched successfully into space. It is a nine-billion dollar infrared telescope that will allow mankind to see further into the universe than any other instrument.

An Ariane 5 heavy rocket with NASA’s 7-ton observatory in the cargo bay blasted off from the European Space Agency’s launch base in French Guiana at 7:30am EST (12:30 GMT).

Everything went to plan and less than a half an hour later the French-made booster released the state-of-the-art instrument – named after James Webb, who headed NASA in its formative period in the 1960s – into space.

Over the next two weeks, the telescope is going to be unwinding its antennas to eventually reach the size of a tennis court, while flying away from Earth at the speed of 40,000kph (25,000 miles per hour).

NASA hailed the launch as “the beginning of a new, exciting decade of science,” saying that Webb’s mission “will change our understanding of space as we know it.”

The new observatory is going to become a replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope, which had been circling the Earth’s low orbit for the last three decades, primarily operating at optical and ultraviolet wavelengths.

READ MORE: ‘We may find signs of life on other planets in next 5 to 10 years’ thanks to powerful new telescope, claims researcher

Webb’s telescope is 100 times more sensitive than Hubble. It’s going to study the cosmos in the infrared spectrum, allowing the scientists a glimpse at the theoretical flashpoint that started the expansion of the observable universe an estimated 13.8 billion years ago.

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