Hubble telescope’s bigger, more powerful successor to soar

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In this Sept. 29, 2014 photo made available by NASA, James Webb Space Telescope Optical Engineer Larkin Carey examines two test mirror segments on a prototype at the Goddard Space Flight Center’s giant clean room in Greenbelt, Md. Webb will attempt to look back in time 13.7 billion years, a mere 100 million years after the universe-forming Big Bang as the original stars were forming. (Chris Gunn/NASA via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The $10 billion successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is about to take flight. NASA is entrusting the launch of the world’s biggest and most powerful space observatory to its European partners.

A French-built rocket is poised to blast off from South America on Friday with the James Webb Space Telescope.

Years behind schedule, the elaborate, budget-busting telescope had to be folded origami-style to fit in the rocket.

That’s because its sunshield is the size of a tennis court. Webb is designed to peer almost all the way back in time, beholding the first stars.

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