The next generation: James Webb Space Telescope

The Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes have been rocking it for 22 and 9 years, respectively. They’re responsible for producing the incredible deep-space images we’re all familiar with, some of which areincluded below. But Spitzer has already exhausted its reserves of liquid helium, required for itsprimary operations, and Hubble is only expected to last another two years. James Webb is their successor.
With different phases of construction underway in 17 countries, the James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled forcompletion in 2018. Its design features 18 gold-coated hexagonal mirrors, which will focus light from super-distant target sources and capture high-res visible and infrared images. In theory, this means it will be able to see the most distant objects in the universe, such as the first stars and galaxies to form following the Big Bang.
In the picture , “NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six flight ready James WebbSpace Telescope’s primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL.” Functionality must be tested in conditions similar to those experienced within James Webb’s target orbit, 930,000 miles straight up.