Hubble Back to Full Science Ops; JWST Fully Fueled

Dec 8, 2021 | Daily Space, JWST, Spacecraft

Hubble Back to Full Science Ops; JWST Fully Fueled
IMAGE: Hubble Space Telescope over the clouds of Earth. CREDIT: NASA

We are pleased to get to start this week out with some good news about the Hubble Space Telescope: as of December 6, this little telescope-that-can is back to full science operations with four active instruments.

On October 23, the 31-year-old telescope went into safe mode after an error indicated the instruments weren’t correctly receiving timing information and had lost a specific synchronization message. The orbiting telescope had to be updated remotely with new software to deal with synchronization errors in a way that allowed the instruments to work, and the updates did the trick.

We send our kudos to the NASA and ESA Hubble teams and are so grateful that we will have this workhorse of science for a little bit longer.

It seems we can’t update you on Hubble without also updating you on JWST, and we have a JWST update. This decades-delayed Just Waiting Space Telescope has been approved for a December 22 launch and, as of yesterday, is fully fueled. Now, to be clear: it is literally the JWST that it fully fuelled. The telescope needs to carry its own propellant – hydrazine and a hydrazine mix – so it can make needed course corrections after launch, maintain its position as needed, repoint the observatory, and manage its momentum. This giant and complex system has twelve different thrusters that allow it to smoothly move.

IMAGE: The James Webb Space Telescope was fueled inside the payload preparation facility at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on Nov. 26, 2021. Credit: ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique video du CSG – P Piron

Now that it is fully fuelled, JWST is ready to be mounted on its ride to space – an Ariane 5 rocket – and locked away in its protective fairing. Launch remains set for December 22. 

It will take JWST about thirty days to get from Earth to its ultimate destination and to fully unfold and be ready to collect data. With forty major deployment actions and over 300 single points of failure, be gentle with your astronomer friends over New Year’s. Until we know JWST actually works, there are going to be a lot of frayed nerves.

More Information

NASA Returns Hubble to Full Science Operations (NASA)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Fully Fueled for Launch (NASA)


Got Podcast?

365 Days of Astronomy LogoA community podcast.

URL * RSS * iTunes

Astronomy Cast LogoTake a facts-based journey.

URL * RSS * iTunes * YouTube

Visión Cósmica LogoVisión Cósmica


Escape Velocity Space News LogoEscape Velocity Space News
New website coming soon!

Become a Patron!
CosmoQuest and all its programs exist thanks the generous donations of people like you! Become a patron & help plan for the future while getting exclusive content.