NASA has just postponed the launch date of its space telescope: the James Webb, the cause: communications problems.
Will the James Webb Space Telescope ever take off? While the mission began in the early part of the 2000s, it has since become a symbol of things wrong with the space world, especially when it comes to deadlines. It is not uncommon to see a mission delayed, or canceled, but few have taken more than 20 years to launch into space.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is on that short list, and as everyone expected to see it take to the air from Kourou in French Guiana in the coming days, with an initial launch date slated for December 18 2021, this date has been delayed a second time by NASA.
Second misstep even before the launch
The first time, it was a telescope retaining cable which had broken during the transport of the latter between the point of arrival in Guyana and the launch pad. In order to verify that all the elements of the telescope, in particular the gigantic mirror, had not been damaged during this event, it was decided to interrupt the millimeter firing procedure.
This first setback resulted in a delay of four days, postponing the launch of the JWST until December 22. Four days for a mission that will have taken more than 20 years to build, is ultimately three times nothing. Astronomy lovers know how to be patient anyway. So no one really stepped up to the plate against NASA and its organization when the news broke. As if everyone was expecting it a bit.
A still delayed departure
But a few days after this unfortunate event, NASA comes back to us a second time, and again, the announcements are not good. Indeed, the American space agency announced that the James Webb Telescope was not going to be able to take the air on time. If the telescope is not to be called into question this time, it is communications with NASA that seem to be complicated. This can be explained by many, many reasons and NASA will therefore take the time it takes to investigate.
The idea is not to send such an expensive object into space (more than 10 billion euros) without being absolutely certain that the telescope is capable of functioning properly. As a result of this new incident in the departure procedure, the take-off date has been postponed by two days, to December 24, 2021. It will therefore be necessary to wait until New Year’s Eve to see the JWST take to the air, something to make the older ones dream, rolling my eyes. It shouldn’t take too much away from the atmosphere of the moment.