NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, built in partnership with Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC), arrived at its solar orbit, Lagrange Point 2 (L2), marking the completion of its million mile journey and the first month of its half-year long commissioning period.

L2 is a point in space about a million miles from Earth where the gravity of the sun and Earth create a semi-stable location where it is easy to maintain Webb’s orbit with a minimum of fuel.

“The James Webb Space Telescope will unlock some of the universe’s biggest mysteries and it stands as a testament to what’s possible when industry and government work together,” said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman.

Webb launched from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Dec. 25, stowed inside an Ariane 5 rocket. Over the course of two weeks after its historic launch, the space observatory successfully deployed its sunshield and mirrors during a series of complex deployments and maneuvers, the first of its kind ever attempted in space.

The team is turning its attention to making a series of fine adjustments to the telescope’s optics over the coming weeks and months to bring the telescope’s optical train into precise alignment. NASA anticipates that the observatory will be ready to send back its first science by mid-summer.

Webb is an infrared telescope designed to see the first light coming from the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe. Once operational, Webb will collect data and capture images for scientists back on Earth and explore farther than ever before into the cosmos, looking back over 13.5 billion years. To accomplish this, Webb incorporates innovative design, advanced technology, and groundbreaking engineering. Engineers developed 10 technological inventions for the telescope, including revolutionary optics, detectors and thermal control systems.    

Northrop Grumman leads the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the largest, most complex and powerful space telescope ever built. NASA heads an international partnership that includes both the European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency. Goddard Space Flight Center manages the Webb Telescope project, and the Space Telescope Science Institute is responsible for science and mission operations, as well as ground station development.           

Additional James Webb Space Telescope background for reporters and editors: Webb-Datasheet.pdf (

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