NASA has announced that they’ve installed the first of the James Webb Space Telescope’s mirrors. The part is one of eighteen that will eventually be bolted to the satellite, which is set to launch in 2018.
The telescope is to replace the aging Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in orbit for 25 years. Once completed, its mirrors will stretch 16.5 meters across, and will have to be folded to fit into the rocket that will take it into space.
“There have many significant achievements for Webb over the past year, but the installation of the first flight mirror is special,” said Bill Ochs, James Webb Space Telescope project manager. “This installation not only represents another step towards the magnificent discoveries to come from Webb, but also the culmination of many years of effort by an outstanding dedicated team of engineers and scientists.”
The large size of the telescope will allow astronomers to observe the universe’s earliest moments, and will hopefully shed new light on how solar systems, stars and planets are formed.