NASA planned James Webb Space Telescope Delays Launch Until 2020

Artist’s conception of the James Webb Space Telescope. Image c  o Nasa

The James Webb Space Telescope, whose total cost is expected to exceed $ 9 billion, will not be launched until May 2020, NASA recently announced. This infrared space telescope will revolutionize our ability to detect and characterize exoplanets, study the very early universe, and peer deep into the dusty clouds where stars are born. Following a new assessment of the remaining tasks on the highly complex space observatory, the launch window is now targeted for about May 2020.

Nasa said the telescope will "next undergo environmental testing, subjecting it to the vibrational, acoustic and thermal environments it will experience during its launch and operations", a process lasting a few months.

Launching a project of this size and scope will be an incredible achievement, but it is not without its challenges. "All the observatory's flight hardware is now complete, however, the issues brought to light with the spacecraft element are prompting us to take the necessary steps to refocus our efforts on the completion of this ambitious and complex observatory".

Stay tuned for more updates on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Testing the hardware on the observatory's telescope and spacecraft modules demonstrate that these systems individually meet their requirements.

JWST will take about 30 days from launch to reach its final orbit. So engineers have folded the telescope like origami to fit.

The delay could also affect the next astrophysics decadal survey, the report prepared by the astronomy community once per decade to determine priorities for space and ground-based observatories.

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The project saw other instances of errors and snags like when the cables that pull the sun shield developed too much slack and then, seven small tears were formed on the five independent membranes of the shield which needed proper redressal and that increase the construction time. Moreover, the agency said it no longer could guarantee that the project would live within an $8 billion cost cap imposed by Congress. The project's standing review board predicted with 70 per cent confidence that, with further tests, the telescope will be ready to launch in May 2020. The delay involves integrating the components together and then testing them again.

It was during the testing of the spacecraft element that several technical issues arose.

Where does the project stand now?

Next stage Late previous year, NASA said that the JWST's telescope and scientific instrument payload had passed cryogenic tests at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, after which the equipment was delivered to the Redondo Beach site for spacecraft integration. It will be the upgraded version of the Hubble Space Telescope and will provide 100 times more sensitive information. This board's findings will help to solidify the need for additional testing, as well as help to lay out the final plan for integration, testing, commissioning, and spacecraft deployment.

Both the external board - which will be chaired by spaceflight veteran Thomas Young - and NASA's existing internal review panel will contribute to a progress report that will be delivered to Congress this summer.

Under provisions of recent appropriations bills, including a fiscal year 2018 appropriations bill signed into law March 23, any overrun beyond the $8 billion cap is treated as the equivalent of a 30 percent overrun under federal law.

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