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Massive Webb Telescope May See Close to the Beginning of Time

Set to launch Christmas Day and peer back 13.5 billion years, the successor to Hubble could help answer some of humanity’s biggest questions.

The James Webb Space Telescope emerges from Chamber A at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 2017.

The James Webb Space Telescope emerges from Chamber A at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in 2017.

Source: NASA/Chris Gunn

The largest, most expensive and certainly most sophisticated space telescope ever built is scheduled to lift off Dec. 25 from the north coast of South America. Upon reaching its orbital station some 932,000 miles from Earth, the massive James Webb Space Telescope just might be able to see the beginning of time.

More than 30 years after NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope, its giant successor is designed to see through the most ancient mists of deep space. The farther one looks into the cosmos, the further back in time one goes. When Webb begins work in mid-2022, it will help scientists study some of the earliest light in the universe, as well as peer more closely at planets in other galaxies.