Webb's Launch

Launched on December 25, 2021 from ESA's Spaceport in French Guiana.

James Webb Space Telescope Launch

Webb's Launch and Beyond

This page covers information on Webb's launch as well as post launch deployment and the process of getting Webb from the US to French Guiana where it was launched.

Launch Date

Webb was launched on on December 25, 2021 on board an Ariane 5 rocket from Ariane Space Spaceport in French Guiana. Webb was transported there by ship through the Panama Canal from Northrup's facility in California where it under went final integration and test.


The James Webb Space Telescope was launched on an Ariane 5 rocket. The launch vehicle and launch site were part of the European Space Agency's contribution to the mission. The Ariane 5 is one of the world's most reliable launch vehicles and was chosen for a combination of reliability (it was the only launch vehicle that met NASA's requirements for launching a mission like Webb) and for the value it brought via our international partnership. Read more about why the Ariane 5 was chosen.


Webb was launched from Arianespace's ELA-3 launch complex at Europe's Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana. It is beneficial for launch sites to be located near the equator - the spin of the Earth can help give an additional push. The surface of the Earth at the equator is moving at 1670 km/hr.

Ariane 5 with James Webb Space Telescope Prelaunch
Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket with NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope onboard, is seen at the launch pad, Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021, at Europe’s Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
NASA/Chris Gunn
Webb spacecraft launching
Webb was launched on an ArianeSpace Ariane 5 Launch Vehicle on December 25, 2021
NASA / Chris Gunn

Webb Launch Slideshow

Humanity’s Last Glimpse of the James Webb Space Telescope
Featured Story

NASA’s Webb Telescope Launches to See First Galaxies, Distant Worlds

Editor’s note: This release was updated on Dec. 25 to reflect the observatory’s release at approximately 870 miles (1,400 kilometers).…

Read the Story

Launch Video

On December 25, 2021, and 7:20 AM ET (12:20 UTC), the James Webb Space Telescope was launched by an ArianeSpace Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana. The rocket and launch site were part of the European Space Agency's contribution to the mission.


The Launch Segment has 3 primary components:

  1. Launch Vehicle: an Ariane 5 with the cryogenic upper stage provided in the single launch configuration, with a long payload fairing providing a maximum 4.57 meter static diameter and useable length of 16.19 meters.
  2. Payload Adapter: comprised of the Cone 3936 plus the ACU 2624 lower cylinder and clamp-band, which provided the separating mechanical and electrical interface between the Webb Observatory and the Launch Vehicle.
  3. Launch campaign preparation and launch campaign. The launch campaign preparation and launch campaign were the mutual responsibility of NASA, ESA, Northrop Grumman and ArianeSpace.
Webb is encapsulated in its rocket fairing
On Friday 17 December, the Ariane 5 rocket fairing was closed around the James Webb Space Telescope. This protective fairing, or ‘nose cone’, will shield the telescope during liftoff and its journey through the atmosphere on 24 December.
This image shows the James Webb Space Telescope atop its launch vehicle
Webb in it's folded launch configuration.
NASA/Chris Gunn
Webb Launch Vehicle Components
Webb Launch Vehicle Components
Featured Story

How to Ship the World’s Largest Space Telescope 5,800 Miles Across the Ocean

Press Release: NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Arrives in French Guiana After Sea Voyage NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope successfully arrived in…

Read the Story

Post Launch Deployment

After launch, the telescope deployed on its 29-day, million-mile journey out to the second Lagrange point (L2). This video shows the deployment procedure, timeline, and location of the satellite during deployment. More about the telescope's final orbit around L2.

Engineers on the ground will remotely orchestrate a complex sequence of deployments in the hours and days immediately after the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. This animation shows the nominal sequence for these deployments.

Final View

This final view of Webb was caught by the upper stage camera just after separation.

Last Glimpse of the James Webb Space Telescope before it goes deep into space.
Humanity’s final look at the James Webb Space Telescope as it heads into deep space.
Arianespace, ESA, NASA, CSA, CNES