TAMPA, Fla. - After years of delays, NASA's James Webb Telescope blasted off into space on Christmas morning. It's now the biggest and most powerful tool for exploring space that's ever been built.
NASA took space exploration to new heights on Christmas Day with the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
"It's a time machine. It's going to take us back to the very beginnings of the universe. We are going to discover incredible things that we never imagined," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.
It successfully launched Saturday from the European Space Agency spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It's a move that's been more than 3 decades in the making and will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope which has been in service since April 1990.
Webb was initially supposed to launch in 2007, but faced years of delays due to technological challenges.
"Now we have to realize there are still innumerable things that have to work and they have to work perfectly 344 of them," Nelson said.
The Webb Telescope will be able to explore the atmospheres of exoplanets--some of which are potentially habitable--and ultimately help to uncover clues about the search for life outside of Earth. The telescope comes equipped with a mirror that can extend 21 feet and 4 inches, which means it will be able to collect more light from the objects it observes once the telescope is in space. The more light the mirror can collect, the more details the telescope will be able to observe.
"We know that in great reward there is great risk. And that's what this business is all about. And that's why we dare to explore," Nelson said.
It'll take about 6 months before the telescope can become fully operational.