James Webb Space Telescope

  • Released Saturday, January 1st, 2000
  • Updated Monday, November 27th, 2023 at 12:00AM


The James Webb Space Telescope (sometimes called JWST) is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope. The observatory launched into space on an Ariane 5 rocket from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana on December 25, 2021. After launch, the observatory was successfully unfolded and is being readied for science.

Webb will find the first galaxies that formed in the early Universe, connecting the Big Bang to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Webb will peer through dusty clouds to see stars forming planetary systems, connecting the Milky Way to our own Solar System. Webb's instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.

Webb has a large primary mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter and a sunshield the size of a tennis court. Both the mirror and sunshade are too large to fit onto the Ariane 5 rocket fully open, so both were folded which meant they needed to be unfolded in space.

Webb is currently in its operational orbit about 1.5 million km (1 million miles) from the Earth at a location known as Lagrange Point 2 (L2).

The James Webb Space Telescope was named after the NASA Administrator who crafted the Apollo program, and who was a staunch supporter of space science.

Webb First Images

Webb Media Resource Highlights

Recent Releases

Webb Launch and Deployment Programs and Highlights

Spacecraft Animation

Science Animation

Instrument & Component Animation

Descriptive Concept Animations

Webb Journey To Space Series

Elements of Webb Series

Elements of Webb explores why engineers chose to use different materials on the James Webb Space Telescope. While Webb towers three stories tall, and has a tennis court sized sunshield and is twice the size of the Hubble Space Telescope, Webb is half Hubble’s weight. Why? Engineers precisely chose the right materials. #UnfoldTheUniverse

Webb at the Launch Site

Shipping Webb: Los Angeles to the Launch Site

Transporting and Moving Webb

A collection of all the produced videos, b-roll and time-lapse assets related to transporting Webb and it's components.

Assembled Observatory

Optics B-Roll

Instrument B-roll

Structure & Component B-roll

Timelapse Videos

Produced Videos