World’s most powerful space telescope lifts off into orbit

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the most powerful ever built, was launched into space on Saturday to explore the oldest galaxies in the universe. The telescope was built jointly by space agencies in Europe, the US and Canada. Designed to answer questions about the universe, the telescope will look further back in time than ever before to 400 million years after the Big Bang. It was launched from the European spaceport Kourou in French Guiana on board an Ariane launch vehicle, for a four-week journey to its target orbit, some 1.5 million kilometres away. The launch was livestreamed on the NASA website. As the rocket launched, NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said, “Lift-off, from a tropical rainforest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe.” Described as the “most expensive astronomical risk in history” by scientific journal Nature, the telescope has been in the works since the late 1980s. The telescope’s mission is scheduled to last 10 years. (DPA)