By land, air and sea, when it’s time to travel, Webb covers the gamut of transportation.
When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope needs to travel, it is carefully packed away in a specially designed container called the Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS). As the name implies, the container protects Webb during its journeys on ground, above ground, and over water. Webb’s optical element and science instruments were packed inside STTARS at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, before they were flown to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for final cryogenic testing. From Houston, Webb will board an airplane once again to travel to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, for integration with the spacecraft bus and sunshield. Once Webb is fully assembled, it will be packed into a larger, modified version of the STTARS container, called “Super STTARS,” and travel by ship to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana. The massive container weighs approximately 165,000 pounds (almost 75,000 kilograms) and dwarfs Webb in terms of mass — the telescope weighs approximately 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms) here on Earth. All of that bulk is needed to keep Webb’s individual parts, and eventually the fully assembled telescope, safe during the journey to the launch pad. Watch the video to learn more.
Once packed into STTARS, Webb travels slowly over land before taking a flight aboard a massive military transport plane.
Despite the C-5 Galaxy’s massive size, the STTARS container just barely squeezes under the top of the plane’s cargo hold.
The spacious belly of the C-5 Galaxy was designed to carry U.S. military tanks. Webb gets the plane all to itself.
When traveling on land, Webb is carefully chauffeured by a semi-truck. The ride is slow - approximately 5 mph (8 kph).
A French cargo ship will ferry the fully assembled Webb telescope, inside STTARS, to its launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
STTARS Outside Chamber A courtesy Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
STTARS Arrival in Texas Image Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
C-5 Galaxy belly Image Credit: NASA/Desiree Stover
James Webb Space Telescope Semi-Truck Transport Image Credit: NASA/Desiree Stover
French cargo ship Image Credit: NASA/Charles Diaz
- Eric Villard (InuTec, LLC) [Lead]