There is no doubt that the James Webb Space Telescope will go down in history as one of the most important achievements in the history of human civilization. It will open up an entirely new era in astronomy and help us understand more about our universe.
Now that the James Webb telescope has been launched, you might wonder: How long will it last and what will come after it? Let's find out!
How Long Will the James Webb Telescope Last?
Initially, Webb's mission lifetime was projected to be at least 5-1/2 years. However, after the successful launch of the telescope, NASA found that the observatory have enough propellant (fuel) to support scientific operations for more than 10 years.
According to NASA, the excess fuel is "largely due to the precision of the Ariane 5 launch, which exceeded the requirements needed to put Webb on the right path." In addition, the precision of the first and second mid-course correction manoeuvres was also a factor.
In simple words, less fuel than originally planned for is needed to correct Webb’s trajectory toward its final orbit around the L2 (second Lagrange point). As a result, Webb has a reserve of fuel to keep it operational for 10 years or more.
What Will Come After the JWST?
Currently, the James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s most powerful space observatory. It is designed to explore the first stars and galaxies in the universe more than 13 billion years ago.
The successor of the Hubble Telescope is currently on a 29-day trip to its final destination, Lagrange point 2 (L2). JWST will arrive at L2 on January 23 and will be ready to peer into the past; precisely 13.7 billion years back in time.
Inevitably, one of the questions that come up in our mind is: What comes after the James Webb Telescope?
Nancy Grace Roman Telescope is NASA’s next great observatory program. Expected to launch in 2027, the telescope is designed to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter.
However, it seems, the Large Ultraviolet/Optical/Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR) will be the successor of JWST. Even bigger than Webb, LUVOIR focuses on characterizing a wide range of exoplanets, including those that might be habitable.