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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — After more than 20 years of work, NASA is on the verge of launching a giant telescope intended to open new frontiers in space exploration.

Scientists are putting the final touches on the James Webb Space Telescope. It’s center stage at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The telescope is a high-tech creation designed to revolutionize astronomy and it’s the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built.

“The technologies are really amazing. The engineering is just mind-blowing,” said  NASA Astrophysicist Amber Straughn.

Taller than a three-story building, the James Webb telescope dwarfs its baby brother, the Hubble which has been circling earth for 27 years.

Straughn says the bigger and better successor will open a window into space never seen before.

“With this telescope, we plan to look back in time over 13 and a half billion years to see the first galaxies that were born after the big bang,” said Straughn.

NASA plans to launch the Webb telescope next year. The entire thing folds up to fit inside a rocket then unfolds in space.

First, engineers are testing to making sure it can handle the rough ride then, for at least two years, both the Hubble and Webb telescopes will orbit at the same time.

Hubble has revolutionized our understanding of the universe. It has changed the fundamental ways we understand how the universe works. With Webb, we’ll be able to push further into new parts of the universe.

Straughn says what she’s most excited for is how the telescope will answer questions scientists haven’t even thought to ask. Development of the new telescope cost about $8-billion.


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