The dreams and work of a generation of astronomers headed for an orbit around the sun on Saturday in the form of the biggest and most expensive space-based observatory ever built. The James Webb Space Telescope, a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, lifted off from a spaceport near the Equator in Kourou, French Guiana, a teetering pillar of fire and smoke embarking on a million-mile trip to the morning of time.
“The world gave us this telescope and we’re handing it back to the world today,” said Gregory Robinson, the Webb telescope’s program director, during a post-launch news conference in French Guiana.
The telescope, named for the NASA administrator who led the space agency through the early years of the Apollo program, is designed to see farther in space and further back in time than the vaunted Hubble Space Telescope. Its primary