I explored NASA’s sad funding situation and its drought of future large missions — and how other countries are becoming key players in space exploration — in the September article “Has NASA lost its edge?” The next large-scale science mission, called the James Webb Space Telescope, however, is a product of the American space agency (although after this project, NASA has no other large-scale space observatories planned). Webb, scheduled for an October 2018 launch, will have a 6.5-meter mirror to collect the universe’s “first light” — marking the time in cosmic history that the first galaxies and stars lit up. The observatory has the ability to transform what astronomers know about the cosmos.
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