NASA confirmed that their decades-long initiative is ready for take-off: The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled to launch on Saturday, December 25 at approximately 7:20 a.m. EST. And even more exciting – contributions from Capitol Technology University’s own alumni made this event possible.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), or “Webb”, is the largest and most expensive telescope flown into space since its predecessor, the Hubble Telescope. Technology has come a long way since the launch of Hubble in 1990, which was named to honor the legacy of astronomer Edwin Hubble. At that time, Hubble was the largest and most advanced telescope of its kind, and its continued use in research, even to this day, has been critical in our exploration and understanding of the universe. It is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of high-quality images that have defined our concept of space. Hubble is currently still in use and exploring young stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The launch of the Webb Telescope will make it possible to expand on Hubble research to view galaxies far outside our own.
In contrast to the Hubble Telescope’s near-infrared system, the Webb Telescope will be using updated infrared technology and instruments to “study every phase of cosmic history – from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe” (NASA, 2021). Mankind could conceivably learn more about our origins and fundamental events that happened billions and billions of years ago. NASA explains that the luminous objects in our universe emit ultraviolet and visible light. Over time, this light has been stretched or “redshifted” by the universe’s continual expansion, and can now be detected as longer-wavelength infrared light by sensitive equipment found in the Webb Telescope. In addition, Webb will be sent out further into space than Hubble to explore neighboring galaxies, as well as our own, in hopes of determining their origin and evolution.
Capitol alumni and students have been integrally involved in this exciting new endeavor, providing significant contributions to its success. In 2014, Alum Scarlin Hernandez began working with the Webb team, developing and testing code for the Telescope’s ground systems. She is currently a Spacecraft Engineer for the Webb mission. In 2017, then student Ben Serano, alongside Alums Aaron Bush, and Carl Hansen, began working with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which will be handling flight ops for the Webb mission. During their time with the Webb team, Serano and Bush performed important test operations and script testing. As a current member of the Flight Operations Team, Carl Hansen continues to provide communications support through telemetry analysis and statistical trending. Capitol alum Christopher Murray, now an accomplished Systems Engineer at Raytheon Technologies, also contributed significantly to the project and can't wait for takeoff on the 25th.
Capitol aims to support space exploration and technology through its programs and its students. Founded as a correspondence school for radio and electronics education, Capitol provided training that was used for improving critical communications during WWII. This legacy lives on today in Capitol’s current program offerings and initiatives:
In 2002, the Space Operations Institute (SOI) was established at Capitol to provide hands-on education in the aerospace industry. Students such as Scarlin Hernandez began their space exploration career in SOI. In 2013, the Astronautical Engineering (AE) department was developed to carry on this purpose and provide students with essential knowledge needed to enter into the astronautical industry.
In 2015, Capitol developed the Space Flight Operations Training Center (SFOTC) which provides real-time training in command, control, and telemetry operations, through the use of virtual satellites.
Upcoming in 2022, the campus will be breaking ground with the installation of the APLHA Observatory, allowing Astronautical Engineering (AE) students the opportunity for hands-on experience in performing NASA research by mapping near-earth objects (NEOs) such as meteorites and asteroids.
Capitol students to date have been involved in the Earth Observing System (EOS), the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), the Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS), the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), and the James Webb Telescope (JWST), to name just a few.
Capitol Technology University strives to provide students with the education they need to succeed in these technologically-advanced fields, and the James Webb Space Telescope project is an excellent example of how student dedication can lead to career success.
Those interested can also view the post-launch news conference, which will be held 30 minutes after the launch broadcast ends on Saturday, December 25.
NASA. (2021). NASA Facts: Webb Space Telescope. Retrieved from https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/assets/documents/WebbFactSheet.pdf
NASA. (2021). HubbleSite: Mission and Telescope. Retrieved from https://hubblesite.org/mission-and-telescope