The sending of the James Webb telescope, which will replace Hubble, has been postponed again by NASA. It will be the most powerful observatory ever built.
The US space agency has announced a further delay in launching the James Webb telescope, which will replace the mythical Hubble. It is the second time that NASA is forced to postpone its shipment to space, which is scheduled for a period of time between March and June 2019. The previous planning indicated that the launch was to occur in October 2018 from Guiana French, but scientists have had to delay it after evaluating the pending tasks of integration and control that were planned for the next months.
“Changing the release date is not synonymous with technical or hardware issues,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. “Instead, the integration of various elements of the probe is taking longer than expected,” he adds. The US space agency has confirmed that the evaluation of the James Webb telescope and its scientific instruments will continue at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. These analyzes will ensure that the observatory will be ready and reviewed prior to launch, a postponed submission that will not entail additional cost, according to NASA.
The decision to postpone the launch window has been coordinated with the European Space Agency, which provides the Arianne 5 vehicle with which the telescope will be sent. The Canadian Space Agency is also involved in this space exploration initiative. The three entities have invested more than 10 billion dollars, which is one of the greatest technological efforts made to date to understand more about the origin of the universe.
The observatory, originally named Next Generation Space Telescope, is named after James Edwin Webb, one of the strongest proponents of the Apollo program. The James Webb telescope will be the most powerful scientific instrument ever built. Its very high sensitivity will allow it to capture, for example, the light of the first stars and galaxies, which formed 13.8 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang. The telescope, which has a 6.5-meter diameter mirror, is designed to observe a wide range of astronomical phenomena, such as the atmosphere of planets outside the solar system and other objects within our planetary system.