this is bbc news broadcasting in the uk and around the globe. i'm martine croxall. our top stories... going further and deeper into space than ever before — a revolutionary telescope is due to blast off shortly. this is the scene live... we'll hear from the launch pad. as well as the experts. volunteers staff vaccine centres in england as the race to fight the surging omricon variant doesn't stop for the holiday. in his christmas message, pope francis highlights the immense tragedies in yemen and syria which he says are being passed over in silence. and the queen is expected to give a very personal christmas message this year — her first since the death of her husband prince philip.
hello, and welcome to bbc news. a revolutionary telescope which is aiming to detect some of the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe is due to head off into space in the next few minutes. we will be following the launch of the james webb space telescope from this point which is the launch pan in french guiana. nasa's james webb space instrument, which has cost £10 billion, will be released from a rocket 26 minutes after blast—off. our science editor, rebecca morelle reports. stunning images revealing the beauty of our universe, but we've only seen a tiny fraction of it. now, a new astronomy mission is set to revolutionise our view. this is the james webb space telescope. it's a successor to hubble,
but 100 times more powerful. after three decades in the making and a cost of $10 billion, it is finally ready to launch. we've never attempted anything like that in space before. we are going to be entering a whole new regime of astrophysics! a new frontier! and that is what gets so many of us excited about james webb space telescope. this space telescope is a feat of engineering. at its heart is a 6.5m—wide mirror, made up of 18 hexagonal segments, each coated in a layer of gold. its size means it can detect the incredibly faint light coming from the most distant stars. it also has a huge sunshield — about the size of a tennis court. it's made up of five layers, each as thin as a human hair. and this protects the telescope from the heat and light of the sun. sitting a million miles away from the earth, the telescope will give us our deepest ever view
of the cosmos, from seeing the birth of the very first stars and galaxies to revealing new planets in far—flung solar systems. what excites me is making discoveries, things we haven't thought about, and there's a whole history of astronomy that shows how, when we've looked at the new universe in a new way, we discover things we hadn't thought about, and there's something really exciting about doing that. so the light from the telescope - comes in down at the bottom here — you can see a red cover covering the entrance aperture... - on board, the instruments that will be key to these discoveries was built in the uk. it is called miri, and this is an engineering replica. webb will be able to do some - wonderful discovery science that has simply not been possible before. we'll be able to see - the first light galaxies — l the first objects and stars that i were glowing after the big bang — and to do that sort - of science, we need miri.
we need the data that only this i instrument will be able to provide. to get into space, the telescope is so big, it's been folded up to fit inside the rocket. the most challenging part is getting it to unfurl. it has been practised here on earth, and that is hard enough — there are 300 points where it could go wrong. but if anything fails in space, the telescope is too far away to be fixed. this is the biggest and most ambitious space telescope ever built. now, its mission is almost ready to begin. the hours ahead will be an anxious wait for scientists. rebecca morelle, bbc news. with me to talk us through the launch and the importance of the mission is european space agency instrument scientist dr sarah kendrew, who is part of the team behind the miri infrared apparatus on webb. she is at the launch site — waiting for the rocket to go up. thank you so much. what an extraordinary day this is for you,
christmas day and a rocket launch, who could ask for more? what has your role been in this project? i have been part of the team that helped get miri ready for launch. for over ten years now, first in europe and for about six years i've been based in baltimore. in the last few years that has been a lot of practising for today and the next few months. it is quite surreal that all the things that we've been working for are about to happen. you have to have — working for are about to happen. you have to have a certain amount of patients to work on a project like this, don't you? your heart must be in your mouth waiting for this to happen because so many things that could go wrong. happen because so many things that could go wrong-— could go wrong. yes, absolutely. an exercise in — could go wrong. yes, absolutely. an exercise in patience, _ could go wrong. yes, absolutely. an exercise in patience, definitely. - exercise in patience, definitely. and trust. it's an absolutely huge team. my part is very tiny every�*s
individual part is tiny. but we all trust each other. you know that everyone is an expert in their tiny thing and you have to have faith and patience it is all going to come together. so it is pretty special today. it together. so it is pretty special toda . . . , together. so it is pretty special toda . . ., , , together. so it is pretty special toda. . ., ,., today. it certainly is. what are the coals? today. it certainly is. what are the goals? were _ today. it certainly is. what are the goals? were you _ today. it certainly is. what are the goals? were you hoping _ goals? were you hoping this telescope will show you that you didn't know before?— telescope will show you that you didn't know before? there are huge ranue didn't know before? there are huge ranae of didn't know before? there are huge range of questions. _ didn't know before? there are huge range of questions. some _ didn't know before? there are huge range of questions. some of- didn't know before? there are huge range of questions. some of them i didn't know before? there are huge i range of questions. some of them you have already heard. the first generation of stars and galaxies. this is a period in the universe that we don't have a lot of information about. and it is going to help us answer a lot of questions about our own galaxy and why it looks the way it does. also studying chemistry and composition of planets and other planetary systems in the galaxy which will be an important step to understanding how light forms in the universe. there is really going to be a lot of very
unexpected results as well. so really looking forward to all the new questions.— really looking forward to all the new questions. really looking forward to all the newluestions. ., ., ., ., new questions. how are you going to net the new questions. how are you going to get the data — new questions. how are you going to get the data back? _ new questions. how are you going to get the data back? it's _ new questions. how are you going to get the data back? it's got _ new questions. how are you going to get the data back? it's got to - get the data back? it's got to travel 1 get the data back? it's got to travel1 million miles.- get the data back? it's got to travel1 million miles. yes, that is correct. travel1 million miles. yes, that is correct- the _ travel1 million miles. yes, that is correct. the telescope _ travel1 million miles. yes, that is correct. the telescope does - travel1 million miles. yes, that is correct. the telescope does have | correct. the telescope does have some storage on board so its own hard drive. it's not a huge amount so we periodically make contact with the telescope. during the first few months that is very regular. and thenit months that is very regular. and then it will be periodically. we will use the infrastructure of the deep space network, that is a whole collection of dishes on earth that are ready and poised to receive data from all the big probes we have in outer space. and this telescope will bejoining outer space. and this telescope will be joining that family. those dishes are specifically designed to relay that information back to us in
baltimore. it that information back to us in lzraltimore-— that information back to us in baltimore. , ., , . baltimore. it is a very exciting day for ou baltimore. it is a very exciting day for you who _ baltimore. it is a very exciting day for you who have _ baltimore. it is a very exciting day for you who have been _ baltimore. it is a very exciting day for you who have been involved i baltimore. it is a very exciting day l for you who have been involved with it and us watching it. we are seeing that countdown. it is just over 12 minutes to launch. doctor, fingers crossed for all of you and thank you so much for talking to us. families and communities have been marking christmas day across the globe despite varying levels of coronavirus—related restrictions. in england, thousands of people are expected to get boosterjabs today. the number of coronavirus cases hit a record high across the uk yesterday with more than 122—thousand new infections reported. uk health secretary sajid javid has urged people to make the booster part of their christmas this year. meanwhile, the number of people getting their firstjab of the covid—19 vaccine rose by around 46% in the week up to december 21. the nhs says about 60% of adults have now received a boosterjab in the uk, with a record number of vaccinations taking place in the last seven days. the largest increase was seen among young people,
with an 85% increase in first doses for those aged 18 and 2a and a 71% increase in first doses for those aged 25 to 30. 0ur reporter emily unia visited a pharmacy in north london where some patients were waiting to be vaccinated. it is a steady trickle. they have got about 80 pre—booked appointments here here at this pharmacy in north london. they have actually got capacity for at least 400 people to just walk in off the street. so they are hoping to get, i think i'm a little bit more business today. now with me today is one of the pharmacists. what has been like over the past few days? you've been offering the booster for a couple of weeks now. has it been busy? it has been very busy, yes. i think since these last couple of weeks, there are definitely more people uptaking the vaccination. and why was it important to you to open on christmas day and boxing day? i think it is just to maximise our outreach to people. not everybody has opportunities to get vaccinated during the week.
maybe because of work or other commitments. so at least this provides an opportunity to get vaccinated. and what has it been like? have you been finding that people are turning up for the appointments that they book? are you getting more people come as walk—ins? i think predominantly there are booked appointments and there are a few that do come in on a walk—in basis. when people come and they are perhaps a little bit nervous, they might be hesitant about getting the vaccine, worried about what the side effects might be like, what do you say to them? well, we have... all of our vaccinators are health care professionals, so we just reassure them and give them information so that they can give us informed consent to proceed. queen elizabeth will spend christmas day at windsor castle with a smaller group of family members than in previous years. she decided not to travel to sandringham for her traditional family gathering as a "precautionary" measure amid rising coronavirus cases. she's expected to give a very personal christmas message later — her first since the death
of her husband, prince philip. here's our royal correspondent nicolas witchell. the queen will be joined in windsor by six members of herfamily — the prince of wales and duchess of cornwall, the earl and countess of wessex, and the duke and duchess of gloucester. there will be a morning service at st george's chapel inside windsor castle — though this will not be attended by the queen. god save the queen plays. then, at three o'clock, the queen's christmas message will be broadcast. it was recorded a few days ago at windsor with the opening music, the national anthem, played by the central band of the royal british legion in this, their centenary year. the broadcast itself will be a very personal one this year, according to buckingham palace. the queen is expected to speak for the first time in some detail about the loss of her husband, the duke of edinburgh, who died in april. as this still from the broadcast shows, the queen recorded it with a photograph of her and her husband at her side,
and wearing a brooch she had worn on their honeymoon. # for those who can't be here... the cambridges won't be at windsor. last night, a recording of their carol concert at westminster abbey was shown on itv. it featured catherine playing the piano as tom walker sang for those who can't be here. today, william and catherine will be with their children at their home, anmer hall, in norfolk. no doubt they and the rest of the royal family, and particularly the queen, will look back on a year which has not been without its difficulties while looking forward to next year and the queen's platinum jubilee, when the nation will have the chance to mark her 70 years on the throne. nicholas witchell, bbc news. charlotte gallagher is in windsor. the queen like many people scaling back what she had planned this year
for christmas.— back what she had planned this year for christmas. indeed she has. there is absolutely — for christmas. indeed she has. there is absolutely no _ for christmas. indeed she has. there is absolutely no question _ for christmas. indeed she has. there is absolutely no question that - for christmas. indeed she has. there is absolutely no question that the - is absolutely no question that the queen wanted a big family christmas. that was all going ahead until last week when the decision was made because of the spread of 0micron to haveit because of the spread of 0micron to have it here instead in windsor with a much smaller group of people. i think there are two reasons for this. verse, she always wants to be seen doing the right thing and perhaps having a large group of people at her house and hundreds outside to see her may have been seen as not a particularly good thing to do. also she is 95 years old and she has been ill and the last thing that the royal family would want is for her to catch coronavirus. so a much smaller day here at windsor castle. we saw some of the family earlier go to church. prince charles and his wife and principal edward and his family went to church in the castle. that was about 1030 this morning. —— 10:30am.
about 1030 this morning. ——10:30am. the queen was not there, she attended a private service. we will not see her until 3pm. and it will be a much more personal message, reflecting on the loss of her husband earlier this year and really what a year it has been for a lot of people. as you said, the queen had is not the only person who has had to change things because of 0micron. indeed, she does have a busy year to look forward to, it is her platinum jubilee and hopefully coronavirus will not impede too much. yes. will not impede too much. yes, incredibly _ will not impede too much. yes, incredibly busy. _ will not impede too much. yes, incredibly busy. and _ will not impede too much. yes, incredibly busy. and fingers - will not impede too much. 1a: incredibly busy. and fingers cross coronavirus will be scaled back. 70 years on the throne that is what she is marking. seven decades she has been clean. lots of events. there's going to be an extra bank holiday, we think. there is also going to be something in the spring to celebrate the life of prince philip, because when he died we were still in a locked down and his funeral had to
be very small. i think everyone will remember seeing the queen sat alone at her husband's funeral. it was absolutely heartbreaking. she will want a big memorial of his life next year, lots of family involved, lots of charity involve. and yes a big celebration for her platinum jubilee. and fingers crossed that everything is ok by then. something to look forward _ everything is ok by then. something to look forward to _ everything is ok by then. something to look forward to after _ everything is ok by then. something to look forward to after a _ everything is ok by then. something to look forward to after a year - everything is ok by then. something to look forward to after a year in - to look forward to after a year in which we have seen the fractures in the family exposed, publicised in the family exposed, publicised in the papers. harry and megan choosing to go live in america. those problems that follow prince andrew stale because of his friendship with the sex offenderjeffrey epstein. and i think prince andrew will be part of the christmas day here because he lives on the windsor estate, but he is not talked about. we were told prince charles was going to be there, prince edward was
going to be there, prince edward was going to be there. prince andrew has been kept firmly away from the limelight. he did not go to the church with the rest of the family. he is very much in the background now because of his association with jeffrey epstein and elaine maxwell who is currently on trial in america. he himself is a subject in a single case at the moment. a lot has happened this year and a lot of it played out in the media and not things the family wanted to see out in the open. for example the continuing accusations coming from meghan and harry of racism. accusation that meghan�*s mental health was not looked after. all of which has been denied by the family. i am hoping, which has been denied by the family. iam hoping, they which has been denied by the family. i am hoping, they are hoping that they will have more positive light next year. they will have more positive light next ear. ., ., ., ,, , next year. charlotte, thank you very much. next year. charlotte, thank you very much- she — next year. charlotte, thank you very much- she was _ next year. charlotte, thank you very much. she was in _ next year. charlotte, thank you very much. she was in windsor _ next year. charlotte, thank you very much. she was in windsor castle. i pope francis has called for more dialogue and warned against a tendency to withdraw during the coronavirus pandemic. here's the pope addressing a crowd at saint peter's sqaure
during his christmas day speech. translation: sisters and brothers, what with the world be _ like without the patient dialogue of the many generous persons who keep families and communities together? in this time of pandemic, we have come to realise this even more. 0ur capacity for social relationships is sorely tried. there is a growing tendency to withdraw. to do it all by ourselves, to stop making an effort to encounter others and to do things together. 0n the international level, too, there is the risk of avoiding dialogue, the risk that this complex crisis will lead to taking short cuts rather than setting out on the longer path of dialogue. yet, only those paths can lead to the resolution of conflicts and to lasting benefits for all.
reports from sudan say the miltary government has disrupted internet services in the capital khartoum — in response to another call for a large demonstration against the october coup. several bridges have also been closed ahead of the demonstrations. general abdel fattah al—burhan — who led the coup in october — has warned that protests could impede a smooth democratic transition. 0nly only a couple of minutes, we hope, until lift off of the james webb space telescope. it will be lifting off from french guiana. these are live pictures from the control room at the moment. 0ur science correspondentjonathan a moz is beside himself about this. run us through what we are waiting to see. a little bit of geography to start with. we are in french guiana on the northern coast of south america, on the equator in fact. that is going
to help the rocket as it climbs towards this guide. the equator will pull it around and the rotation of the earth, we are trying to get up to 300 km in altitude. you are going to 300 km in altitude. you are going to hear the the launch director and he will countdown in french because we are in french guiana. he will announce the lighting of the main engine underneath the rocket. and then they will wait for the chambers, so the pressure in the chambers, so the pressure in the chambers to be just right and then they will call launch and we will have lift off. perhaps we should listen in as the countdown begins. this is probably the launch of the decade. we have been waiting 30 years for this. the most valuable and priceless science space spearmint ever put in space. we've got a dependable rocket but there
are no guarantees and it has to work. countdown in french. and we have engine start. and liftoff — and we have engine start. and liftoff. ., ' and we have engine start. and liftoff. y ., ., and we have engine start. and liftoff. ., ., liftoff. liftoff from a tropical rain first to _ liftoff. liftoff from a tropical rain first to the _ liftoff. liftoff from a tropical rain first to the edge - liftoff. liftoff from a tropical rain first to the edge of - liftoff. liftoff from a tropical| rain first to the edge of time itself, james webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the universe. there it goes, jonathan. a moment that you and many, many other people have been following for years. we were talking to one of the instrument scientists a little earlier and she was saying that we absolutely have to be patient to see these projects liftoff. you have to have the trust as well of a very
large team of people.- have the trust as well of a very large team of people. yes, they have worked very — large team of people. yes, they have worked very hard _ large team of people. yes, they have worked very hard on _ large team of people. yes, they have worked very hard on this. _ large team of people. yes, they have worked very hard on this. if - large team of people. yes, they have worked very hard on this. if you - worked very hard on this. if you remember the hubble space telescope which was launched 30 years ago, that was putjust which was launched 30 years ago, that was put just above the which was launched 30 years ago, that was putjust above the earth. 0ne that was putjust above the earth. one of the things that they could do was go up with astronauts and repair it, update it. this telescope is being sent about a million kilometres from earth and that means it cannot be fixed. astronauts cannot be sent. so they had to be absolutely sure it would work. they tested it and tested it. that is why we hope it is going to work out perfectly. it is now climbing out over the atlantic it is about 780 tonnes of vehicle. most of it is propellant. it is like an empty vessel for all the propellant you need to getjust that vessel for all the propellant you need to get just that six vessel for all the propellant you need to getjust that six tonnes into orbit. that is how much the space telescope weighs. we are coming up on one of the first key
milestones. a few minutes into the launch which is that those solid boosters strapped on the side they will expand the propellant. they do most of the work of getting the rocket up. and once they have burned through, they will come off and that will be the first stage finished. and then the main rocket will push up. we are getting higher and higher out over the atlantic. you can see at the bottom left hand of the screen is a simulation of where the rocket should be, the altitude it should be and the speed it should be getting to at this moment. it needs to get to escape velocity to escape the pull of the earth's gravitation and so far everything is looking good. we are heading towards africa. we are going to do the big separation. there goes the solid boosters. the first stage is finished. the next big stage is we want to see a fair and come off the
top of the rocket. in order to protect the telescope as it goes up they put a covering over it. you don't want supersonic air rushing past your very valuable telescope. so they put the nose cone on, but obviously to come off the top of the rocket to start doing its thing. that knows cap has to come off. if it does not, then the whole rocket will fall back out into the atlantic and that is game over and $10 billion down the drain. i am a little bit nervous, my palms are sweating, but so far so good. this little bit nervous, my palms are sweating, but so far so good. as you said, sweating, but so far so good. as you said. there — sweating, but so far so good. as you said. there is — sweating, but so far so good. as you said, there is so _ sweating, but so far so good. as you said, there is so much _ sweating, but so far so good. as you said, there is so much that - sweating, but so far so good. as you said, there is so much that can - sweating, but so far so good. as you said, there is so much that can go i said, there is so much that can go wrong, but fingers crossed. tell me where it is going to sit will it be in a fixed location or in orbit or is it maneuverable so data can be collected from a sort of 360 degrees fear? , ., , fear? yes, we are 'ust getting confirmation _ fear? yes, we are 'ust getting confirmation that h fear? yes, we are just getting confirmation that the - fear? yes, we are just getting confirmation that the knows l fear? yes, we are just getting l confirmation that the knows cap fear? yes, we are just getting - confirmation that the knows cap came
off. this is a simulation of what they expect, these pictures. it is judged against the actual data that is coming down from the rocket. this is coming down from the rocket. this is going to a location called l2. it is going to a location called l2. it is a gravitational sweet spot between the sun, the earth and the moon. and you can keep a telescope they are stable and you don't need to use much fuel to keep it there. critically, unlike the hubble telescope which goes around the earth, youto experience moments of eclipse. when the hubble goes around the back of the earth, it goes into shadow and changes the temperature, the solo wings start to flap like a bird on hubble and then it comes back around into the sunshine and everything settles down and you can observe again. in this special location it is very stable. if you
want to look at the stars, the very first stars to shine in the universe, you want a very stable platform. the light from those stars will be trickling in. a few particles of light every time. this telescope will stare at a single spotin telescope will stare at a single spot in this guide four weeks. waiting for the lightjust to come and hit the big mirror and go into the detectors. it really is an extraordinary super—sensitive tell us get —— telescope. the bottom part of the rocket will fall away once the fuel has expended. that will leave just the upper stage that will ignite the thruster that is at the bottom of the upper stage and that will push webb up into orbit around the earth and onwards out to this l2 location. so far, so good.—
location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank ou location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so _ location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so much _ location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so much for— location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so much for sharing - location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so much for sharing all i location. so far, so good. jonathan, thank you so much for sharing all of that information with us. we will keep an eye on how the james webb space telescope continues on its journey. you are watching bbc news. hello and merry christmas from everybody here at bbc weathers. we are going to add a little bit of meteorological magic, snow. that is lacking for much in the uk. it is a continuation of the rather grey and damp weather we have currently seen. it is officially a white christmas in shetland and parts of east and central scotland and in pennines. there might be one to flurries out there through this afternoon. away from some sunny spells and northern most parts of scotland, it is mostly a cloudy christmas day. heavy rain through parts of the southwest and southern england's into wales and northern ireland turning wet. it is
a strengthening east or southeasterly wind adding an extra bite to proceedings. this is what might sound... when you factor in the strength of that when a particular way through northern eastern parts look at the difference it makes. it will feel like it is below freezing. it is still mild in the southwest. it does march further north and east tonight into boxing day across of wales, england, still there in northern ireland. as it runs into cold air across northern england first, then southern and central scotland, you will see that rain turning to snow, particularly into the hills. that is where we are going to be seeing frost as we started start boxing day. there could be some typical conditions on the higher routes across northern england, southern and central scotland for a time on boxing day, with snow falling and their wind blowing it about as well. we could see some snow to relatively low levels for a time, but as it moves further north through scotland tomorrow, mostly in the hills will have the snow.
the far north is still seeing some sunny spells. elsewhere, there will be quite a few heavy showers moving on through northern ireland, wales and england. but brightening up towards the south—west on through the afternoon and temperatures, well, a little bit higher, but still feeling colder because of the wind. and here is a look at boxing day evening. some clearer spells down towards the south and south—west, but you can see elsewhere eight lot of cloud, still some showers or outbreaks of rain around. we have had a battle between that mild and the cold air for christmas weekend. beyond that though, it is very clear that it is the mild air that winds, with areas of low pressure coming in, bringing spells of wind and rain, but pushing mild air, even very mild air in places, right across the uk.
the rocket carrying a space telescope that could transform our understanding of the universe. it has just launched from french guiana. the telescope aims to seek deeper into space. volunteers in england help give vaccines in the race to fight the surging 0micron variant in the country. the government is offering every adult a booster by the end of the month. pope frances has delivered his traditional christmas day urbi et 0rbi message to the world. he deplored the �*immense tragedies' in yemen and syria which he said were �*being passed over in silence' millions around the world face travel disruption over christmas, as the surge in 0micron variant cases sees thousands of flights cancelled due to staff shortages. airlines say they're contacting those passengers affected, before they arrive at the airport. this is bbc news.