The launch of the much-awaited James Webb Space Telescope will not be taking place anytime soon for almost another year. The launch of the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor has been pushed back beyond 2020. This is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project which costs almost $10 billion has scientists hoping that they will be able to see back to the time when the first galaxies were formed after the Big Bang.
The launch was already delayed till March of 2021 but is now pushed further back to October 31, 2021, when it will be launched from French Guiana atop an Ariane 5 rocket. The James Webb Space Telescope is one of the world’s most complex observation devices which is NASA’s top priority in the science division.
#NASA now is targeting Oct. 31, 2021, for the launch of the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope from French Guiana, due to impacts from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as technical challenges. Read more: https://t.co/uw55FazSzH #NASAWebb #JWST pic.twitter.com/v5gXa71Es2
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) July 16, 2020
NASA to delay James Webb Space Telescope launch
The entire development team behind this instrument has been working very hard in order to keep the cycle going even throughout the pandemic situation. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, says in a statement that the team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see NASA through with the new launch date next year.
Despite the latest delay, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope program director, Gregory Robinson, says they will be able to stay within its development cost cap. The JWST will be parked at a position known as Lagrange Point 2 (L2), keeping the Earth between it and the sun. Along with a built-in heat shield, Webb’s position in space is meant to help protect the spacecraft’s instruments for detecting infrared light from the intense heat of the sun.
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Suryapratim Ray is an engineer, author, robotics hobbyist, and an active Quoran. Being a technical blogger, he covers the good, bad, and ugly of science on a regular basis at Sciencenews18. In addition to his passion for writing, he’s equally keen on learning classical music.