The James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) will be the largest, most powerful and complex observatory ever built and launched into space. Launching from French Guiana in October of 2021, NASA and its international partners want to help you celebrate this generational moment in our common exploration of the wider universe, through in-person or virtual events. NASA can support museums, science centers, planetariums, public libraries, nature centers, visitor’s centers, zoos, art galleries, community centers, and other non-profit organizations that communicate or wish to communicate science to the public. NASA can help connect host venues to trainings about Webb and the telescope’s launch process and science, as well as to subject matter experts to best engage with audiences either in person (where possible) or virtually. In addition, hard-copy event materials and handouts can be shipped to participating locations as resources allow.
Image: NASA engineer Ernie Wright looks on as the first six flight-ready primary mirror segments are prepped to begin final cryogenic testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in 2011. Credits: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham
The James Webb Space Telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the legacy of earlier space-based telescopes to push the boundaries of human knowledge even further, to the formation of the first galaxies and the horizons of distant worlds in other solar systems.
As Webb is scheduled to launch in October 2021 and prepares to begin science operations over the following several months, NASA will provide support to communities everywhere to help you join in celebrating this generational event. Webb’s launch and commissioning, culminating in the release of stunning new images in spring 2022, represents a unique opportunity to engage your community through some of humankind’s biggest questions: How does the Universe work? How did we get here? Are we alone?
Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe. Our goal is that with your help, Webb’s launch and commissioning will captivate and inspire a new generation of space science enthusiasts, reaching a broader, more diverse audience than ever before.
Any museum, science center, planetarium, public library, nature center, visitor’s center, community college, or other non-profit organization that communicates or wishes to communicate science to the public, is eligible to receive supporting materials. The opportunity is open to venues of all sizes. We particularly encourage institutions that engage populations or communities that are traditionally underrepresented or underserved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to apply.
Please apply for consideration as an official launch event site by May 16, 2021. Launch events will be considered for dates up to 30 days before the launch in October 2021. As Webb reaches its orbital destination and prepares to begin science operations, digital resources and activity guides are available for other events you may want to hold around other mission milestones.
Official NASA sites can receive:
- Promotion of your event on NASA’s Webb launch website
- Trainings on the Webb Space Telescope and Webb science
- Direct connection with a Webb subject matter expert, in your area or remotely
- Activity guides
- Launch countdown lawn signs
- Large celebratory banner
- 100-200 of each item for each institution:
- Webb folder to hold materials
- Fun Pads
- Lapel Pins
Events selected to receive official status and support will represent, as a group, the diversity across all U.S. states and territories and around the world, and will include:
- A mix of small and large organizations
- Organizations in rural, suburban, and urban locations
- Locations that have not previously received similar NASA resources
- Locations that target all aspects of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics) fields
Sites designated as “official NASA sites” receiving support will be based on:
- Reach - number of people they serve
- A plan for engaging underserved audiences
- Hosting a free, publicly accessible event
- A safety plan, including COVID-19 considerations, as well as a digital back-up plan for in person events
- Connections to local partners (e.g. school districts, county governments, other community organizations, etc)
- A plan for continuing engagement with community beyond the single event
- Engaging subject matter experts in their programming
How to become an official NASA event:
Please complete the linked form to be considered for official NASA support: Apply here
Webb Mission Milestones:
Launch is only the beginning of Webb's long journey before it can begin science operations. As it travels to its final orbit around the Sun, 1 million miles from Earth, the telescope unfold and start readying itself for science!
- October 2021 – Launch
- November/December 2021 – Webb unfolds and reaches its orbital destination
- January 2022 – Webb instruments reach operating temperature, down to 7 degrees above absolute zero
- February/March 2022 – Webb’s many mirror segments align to act as single mirror
- May/June 2022 – Webb releases its first science-quality observations