In photos: The Christmas launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

(Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

But first, James Webb Space Telescope had to leave Earth behind and to do that, it had to get to its launch site. 

Here is the cargo ship carrying NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope that arrived in French Guiana on Oct. 12, 2021, after a 16-day sea voyage. The space telescope is so large that it could not fit inside the payload fairings of most U.S. rockets, so NASA and its European Space Agency partners (among others) picked Arianespace’s Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket to carry the observatory.

Ariane 5 rockets launch from Europe’s Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana in South America, so the Webb space telescope was shipped by cargo ship to the site with some secrecy, as the mission team was concerned about pirates.