The James Webb Space Telescope
Since being placed into orbit by Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-31 in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has been the preeminant observatory in the world of astronomy and certainly unlike any telescope before it. Thanks to Hubble, photographs never previously thought possible have become routine and allowing us to see as far back in time than ever before.
However, after 24 years of service in earth orbit, Hubble is beginning to break down and will soon no longer be operational. In anticipation of this, NASA has been preparing the James Webb Telescope, Hubble’s successor. Webb will take astronomy even further than Hubble has taken us and the photos it takes and the depth of space it will be able to see will be truly mind blowing.
Of course, with the Space Shuttle no longer in service and Webb’s location in space far beyond the reach of what a Space Shuttle could achieve, there is no room for mistakes this time around with Webb, unlike with Hubble when its lenses needed correcting soon after launch into orbit.
The current launch date for Webb is October, 2018.