When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches, it will undergo one of the most harrowing deployment processes any spacecraft has ever endured. But before it even gets on top of its ride to space, Webb had to complete a final journey here on Earth: a 1,500-mile (2,400-kilometer) voyage at sea.
Webb was shipped from California on Sept. 26, ultimately passing through the Panama Canal to reach the Port de Pariacabo — located on the Kourou River in French Guiana, on the northeastern coast of South America — on Oct. 12. Webb will now be driven to its launch site, Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, where it will begin two months of operational preparations before its scheduled Dec. 18 launch.
With the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built as cargo, nothing about this trip was normal.
A Custom-Made “Suitcase”
As a one-of-a-kind machine, Webb required a colossal, specially designed “suitcase” known as STTARS, short...