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NASA is prepared to open a new chapter of space exploration with plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope on Friday.

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The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, but will be able to see much farther out into space than Hubble ever was, NPR reported.

The James Webb Space Telescope will look for the faint light from the very first stars and galaxies, offering the opportunity to look back in time, according to NASA. Scientists said they plan to use Webb to “study planets and other bodies in our solar system to determine their origin and evolution.” The powerful equipment on the telescope promises to let scientists look 13.7 billion years back in time, The Associated Press reported.

Flight Sunshield

The telescope is so big that it has to be folded in order to fit into the rocket that will carry it into space, The Associated Press reported. The primary mirror alone is 21.3 feet across and made of 18 gold-plated hexagonal segments. Also attached to the telescope is a sunshield to protect the sensitive equipment on board. The five-layer sunshield is the size of a tennis court.

Liftoff is scheduled for 7:20 a.m. EST Dec. 24 from French Guiana.