- NASA announced a four-day delay, calling it a ‘recent event’.
- The re-launch has been delayed after an accident at its facility in French Guiana
- James Webb is estimated to have cost over $10 billion (£7.4 billion) to develop
NASA has once again delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to allow for additional testing following a ‘recent incident’.
The $10 billion telescope is now scheduled to launch on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket on December 22 from Kourou, a city in French Guiana, South America.
Earlier it was to be launched on December 18, but a ‘recent incident’ during launch preparations has pushed it back by four days.
The James Webb Space Telescope began development in 1996 and was originally envisaged to launch in 2007 as a successor to Hubble.
Testing work had already been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, taking the estimated total cost of developing the telescope to more than $10 billion (£7.4 billion) by that time.
When it eventually launches, James Webb will study the history of exoplanets and the origins of the universe’s first stars.
The James Webb Space Telescope (pictured) is planned to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as NASA’s flagship astrophysics mission
Recent James Webb Delay
July 16, 2020: March 2021 to October 31, 2021
September 8, 2021: 31 October 2021 to 18 December
November 22, 2021: 18 December to 22 December
NASA outlines the reason for the four-day delay of James Webb – the largest and most powerful telescope ever built – in one blog post,
Following a recent incident that occurred during Webb’s launch preparations, the launch preparation date for the James Webb Space Telescope is extending no earlier than December 22 to allow additional testing of the observatory.
‘The sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter – causes vibrations throughout the observatory.’
According to NASA, the incident occurred while operations were being carried out under the “overall responsibility” of the French satellite launch company Arianespace, which destroyed the telescope in orbit from French Guiana.
Technicians were preparing to attach the $10 billion observatory to a launch vehicle adapter, which would be used to fix it to the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket.
JWST will provide improved infrared resolution and sensitivity on Hubble, and enable broader investigations in the fields of astronomy and cosmology, including observing some of the most distant events and objects in the universe.
‘The sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter – causes vibrations throughout the observatory,’ NASA explained.
‘The NASA-led Anomaly Review Board was immediately called to investigate and additional testing was set up to definitively determine that the incident did not damage any components.’
James Webb is named after James E. Webb, a US government official who was the administrator of NASA from 1961 to 1968 and played an integral role in the Apollo program.
Once operational, the telescope will enable wide-ranging investigations in the fields of astronomy and cosmology, including the observation of some of the most distant events and objects in the universe.
The $10 billion (£7.2bn) James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to Hubble, and will allow astronomers to look deeper into the universe than ever before
After a 16-day voyage aboard MN Colibri, the telescope finally reached French Guiana on Tuesday 12 October, and was recently removed from the transport container prior to launch preparations.
Instruments on the James Webb Space Telescope
NIRCam (near infrared camera) an infrared imager from the edge of the scene through the near infrared
NIRSPC (Near Infrared Spectrograph) will also perform spectroscopy over the same wavelength range.
Miri (mid-infrared instrument) will measure in the long infrared wavelength range from between 5 and 27 micrometers.
FGS/NIRISS (Fine Guidance Sensor and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph), is used to stabilize the observatory’s line-of-sight during science observations.
One of these objectives is to look back more than 13.5 billion years ago to see the first stars and galaxies that, a few hundred million years after the Big Bang, were suing infrared light.
Generally, by the time light from the first objects reaches more basic telescopes, it has shifted toward the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum as a result of the expansion of the universe.
When it does finally launch, James Webb will deliver superior infrared resolution and sensitivity to Hubble, which is still operational.
It is not known whether James Webb will be delayed again after December 22, but given its development history that has suffered frequent setbacks, this would not be surprising.
However, it finally reached French Guiana on Tuesday 12 October after a 16-day voyage on MN Colibri, and was recently removed from the transport container prior to launch preparations, suggesting that development work is eventually in the final stages. has entered.
On December 22, about 28 minutes after the explosion, James Webb will separate from its launch vehicle and begin “the most complex sequence of deployment in a single space mission,” NASA said.
It will travel to an orbit about one million miles from Earth and undergo six months of commissioning in space – which includes opening, cooling, aligning and calibrating its mirrors and sunshield.
“Astronomers around the world will be able to make scientific observations to broaden our understanding of the universe,” NASA says.
Like something out of Willy Wonka’s TV room, the James Webb Space Telescope pictured here…