NASA believes the James Webb Space Telescope has enough fuel to last 20 years
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2 Comments

  1. I'm just a space nerd, all the below is conjecture.

    Lots of talk about refueling even with the 20 year lifespan, from what I've gathered having watched a lot of the NASA conferences and livestreams this past year, with this amount of operational fuel capacity the problem in 20 years will be on operational lifetime of wear components, not just the fuel.

    The reaction wheels are _large_ moving parts on the JWST. The cryocooler for the MIRI is a very finely calibrated moving part. It's a closed system, but still relies on pumps and electronics. After 2 decades of operation it's very likely that these will be experiencing some issues.

    While in 2 decades it might be feasible to refuel the JWST, it seems very unlikely it'd be worth it given the operational wear of every other component. Had we used too much fuel to correct the course to get where we are the math may have been very different. Seems to me that we're fortunate that we can instead dedicate resources to the next-gen observatories!