Mike Wall in Space.com:
NASA just got a $10 billion space telescope for Christmas.
An Ariane 5 rocket launched today (Dec. 25) from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT; 9:20 a.m. local time in Kourou), carrying the highly anticipated, long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope — and the hopes and dreams of countless astronomers, astrophysicists and planetary scientists around the world — into the final frontier.
The huge telescope will peer at the universe’s first stars and galaxies, sniff the atmospheres of nearby alien planets and perform a variety of other high-profile, high-impact work over the next five to 10 years, if all goes according to plan.
More here. More from NPR here.