“Democratization of Space” is a term you may have heard recently. But what does that mean exactly?
There was a time when space technology was largely driven by government priorities and investment. But now, an increasing number of private companies, nonprofit organizations and other entities are getting into the space industry. This democratization effect has made space more accessible to a much larger audience. It has also led to more international cooperation in the space industry.
One way in which that cooperation has manifested is through the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) that is expected to be launched in October 2021. This space-based observatory will expand our access to and understanding of our universe, complimenting and expanding on the work of the Hubble Space Telescope. JSWT will be the largest telescope ever placed in space.
According to the JSWT website, the telescope has “over 1200 skilled scientists, engineers and technicians from 14 countries and more than 29 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia building it.” It is a joint mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European Space Agency (ESA), and Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
The development effort is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. After launch, the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate JSWT.
Notably, launch of the telescope has been entrusted to French aerospace company Arianespace. Ariane 5 – with JSWT on board – will be launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana.
As French Ambassador to the United States Philippe Étienne — an avid advocate for space exploration — has said: “Space is unforgiving…it takes all talents to make progress.” This current era of French-American cooperation is a major milestone in the 230+ year relationship between our two countries. The French-American Cultural Foundation will be following this launch – and ongoing space cooperation between France and the United States – as we move into the future.