James Webb Final Preparations Go Wrong, Space Launch Pushed Closer to Christmas

NASA James Webb Space Telescope 7 photos
Photo: NASA via Twitter
The MN Colibri arrives with Webb in Kourou, French GuianaAriane 5 upper stage heads for GuianaTechnicians and engineers pose in front of NASAs JWSTJames Webb telescope packed and ready to goJW Telescope explainedFinal countdown for launch
NASA announced that the launch date for the giant space telescope was delayed again. Due to an issue encountered during its final preparations, the James Webb observatory will now have to take its million-mile voyage closer to Christmas, on December 22nd.
The Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership between NASA and European and Canadian space agencies. Work on the giant telescope began three decades ago, and initially, Webb was supposed to be launched in 2007, but its historic space journey has been repeatedly delayed.

This year, the telescope underwent rigorous testing at the European Spaceport that ensured every component was operational. Once everything was thoroughly verified, Webb was sent on a 5,800 miles (9,334 km) journey, traveling in a custom-built shipping container from California to Kourou, French Guiana.

Currently, the telescope is at the Guiana Space Centre undergoing final preparations ahead of its historic launch. Webb was previously scheduled to take off aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou on December 18th. However, during preparations, the team of technicians stumbled upon an “issue.”

As the team was getting ready to mate the telescope with the launch vehicle adapter, which is meant to integrate Webb with the rocket’s upper stage, a clamp band that secures it in place suddenly opened. This caused “vibrations throughout the observatory.”

NASA will investigate the incident and run several tests to establish if any of the telescope’s components were damaged. The space agency will provide an update at the end of this week on the situation.

Now, the giant observatory is set to have its magic moment before Christmas, on December 22nd. Once launched, Webb will join its old buddy, the Hubble telescope in space.

Featuring enhanced infrared resolution and sensitivity, Webb will peer into the most distant celestial objects, helping scientists understand the origins of the observable universe and how everything around us formed.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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