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3 min read

NASA, Webb Telescope Partners Receive Aviation Week Grand Laureate Award

Webb’s giant golden mirror stands tall. Light reflects off the 18 gold-coated mirror segments in a clean room. Its secondary mirror support structure is folded upwards. Its folded sunshield is just visible at lower left.

On Nov. 3, the James Webb Space Telescope team was named a Grand Laureate winner during the Aviation Week Network’s 65th Annual Laureate Awards in Washington. NASA led the international Webb partnership with ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

The Aviation Week Network’s Laureate Awards recognize the extraordinary achievements of individuals and teams in aviation, aerospace, and defense. They seek to highlight accomplishments embodying the spirit of exploration, innovation, and vision that inspire others to strive for progress, change, and leadership in aviation and aerospace. This honor recognizes NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope team and Northrop Grumman for building and delivering the largest, most technologically advanced infrared observatory to orbit, and for the telescope’s considerable contribution to the scientific community.

Carl Sagan narrates the trailer for the broadcast of the James Webb Space Telescope’s first full-color images and data.
Credits: NASA

Download this video in HD formats from NASA Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio

After an early morning liftoff on Dec. 25, 2021, the James Webb Space Telescope team went on to complete the most challenging and complex on-orbit deployment sequence ever attempted. All the telescope’s 18 individual primary mirror segments were then brought into precise alignment, forming the largest, most sensitive mirror system ever launched to space. Webb’s four powerful scientific instruments completed commissioning activities over a six-month period and have begun delivering stunning insights and imagery of the outside universe, as well as planets within and beyond our own solar system.

an undulating, translucent star-forming region in the Carina Nebula is shown in this Webb image, hued in ambers and blues; foreground stars with diffraction spikes can be seen, as can a speckling of background points of light through the cloudy nebula
Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), the seemingly three-dimensional “Cosmic Cliffs” showcases Webb’s capabilities to peer through obscuring dust and shed new light on how stars form. Webb reveals emerging stellar nurseries and individual stars that are completely hidden in visible-light pictures. This landscape of “mountains” and “valleys” is actually the edge of a nearby stellar nursery called NGC 3324 at the northwest corner of the Carina Nebula. So-called mountains — some towering about 7 light-years high — are speckled with glittering, young stars imaged in infrared light.
Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, and STScI


“We are thrilled that our teamwork has led to such immediate, important, and beautiful scientific results,” said John Mather, Nobel Prize winner and senior project scientist for Webb at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

Due to precision engineering, and an accurate insertion into orbit by an Ariane 5 rocket – one of the many contributions of the mission’s international partnerships – Webb is expected to have enough fuel to support science operations for over 20 years. 

The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s premier space science observatory. Webb will solve mysteries in our solar system, look beyond to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

For more information about the Webb mission, visit: 


By Thaddeus Cesari 
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.