£7.5bn Webb space telescope, launching on Christmas Day, will be world's most powerful

The James Webb Space Telescope - the successor to the Hubble - is set to launch on Christmas Day after years of delay.

The $10bn (£7.5bn) telescope will launch from French Guiana on December 25, after poor weather pushed back the original launch date. It will launch at 7:20 Eastern Time (12:20 GMT).

Webb is the most powerful space telescope ever made, and will be able to look even deeper into the Universe than the Hubble Space Telescope. It will be able to detect space events from more than 13.5 billion years ago.

NASA has partnered with the European and Canadian space agencies on the mega project. Scientists from these agencies and beyond will use the Webb telescope to study the atmospheres of distant planets.

The £7.5bn James Webb telescope was attached to the Ariane 5 rocket last week

It is hoped the findings will help to answer some of science's biggest questions.

"This is an extraordinary mission. It's a shining example of what we can accomplish when we dream big," said NASA's Bill Nelson.

"This is the kind of mission that only NASA and our partners can carry out. It's going to give us a better understanding of our Universe and our place in it.

"Who we are. What we are. The search that is eternal. Why are we here? How did we get here?"

Mr Nelson told AP news agency the telescope will open up "all kinds" of new understanding and revelations about the universe. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, the NASA administrator broke into song.

“All I want for Christmas are not my two front teeth, but for the success of [the Webb telescope]”.

The telescope is named after James E. Webb, the head of NASA between Feburary 1961 and October 1968. The US space agency said Mr Webb "did more for science than perhaps any other government official".

NASA said it is "only fitting" that the Next Generation Space Telescope would be named after him.