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Tune in as NASA and the ESA try launch the next great space telescope

Image of the Webb Space Telescope.
Enlarge / Most of what you see here will be unfolded in the weeks to months after launch.

There have been years of delays in construction and a few late slips in the launch schedule, with the latest being a short delay due to bad weather at the South American launch site. But the fates seem to have settled on the 25th for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope—now less than 24 hours away. Hard to believe it’s actually happening, right?

If all goes well, tomorrow will see the telescope sent on its way to the L2 Lagrange point with its solar panels and its main communication antenna unfolded. In the ensuing weeks, that hardware will be followed by the extension of the telescope’s sun screen, and later by the unfolding of the telescope itself. There will be multiple points of potential failure before we can be confident that the hardware will live up to its promise.

(If you want a relatively complete timeline of everything that has to happen in the six months between launch and operations, NASA’s got you covered.)

If you’d like to watch the launch itself, NASA TV coverage starts at 6:00 US Eastern time tomorrow morning; we’ve also embedded the NASA TV stream immediately below. Ars will be taking time out of its normal holiday drinking and sleep schedule in order to be at the Space Telescope Science Institute for the launch, so expect a report from there later in the day.

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