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.