16 December 2021 Industry News

NASA delays launch of JWST

An artist's rendering of JWST in space
An artist's rendering of JWST in space

The launch of the James Webb space telescope scheduled for 22 December won't take place before 24 December, NASA announced on Wednesday.

The NASA project that began development in 1996, was originally expected to deploy in the early 2000s. However, multiple problems and a tripling of the telescope's original budget with a final price tag of nearly 10 billion dollars (8.8 billion euros) have forced delays.

Webb was built in the US and transported to its launch site in Kourou in French Guyana this year, where its launch date of 18 December was already pushed back after an incident.

This time a communication problem is to blame, say NASA. "The James Webb Space Telescope team is working a communication issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system," a brief update on the NASA website reads.

"This will delay the launch date to no earlier than Friday, 24 December. We will provide more information about the new launch date no later than Friday, 17 December."

According to the AFP newsite, European Space Agency officials advised that the problem was discovered after the telescope was installed on the Ariane 5 rocket on Saturday. This meant that all the tests had to be run again to make sure everything was working as it should be.

The Webb telescope, named after a former director of the American space agency, will be the largest and most powerful telescope ever to be launched into space.

It follows in the footsteps of the legendary Hubble but will be located much further from the sun. It is hoped that it will show humanity what the Universe looked like even closer to its birth nearly 14 billion years ago.

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