Hubble Successor James Webb Space Telescope Has Been Delayed by NASA Again

An artist's representation of the completed James Webb Space Telescope

An artist's representation of the completed James Webb Space Telescope

"Webb is the highest priority project for the agency's Science Mission Directorate, and the largest worldwide space science project in U.S. history", said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

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

Next stage Late a year ago, 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. However, the data obtained from the Standing Review Board (SRB) notifies about additional time is required.

NASA is also setting up an external, independent review board, which it says will "bolster confidence" in the agency's approach to completing the final battery of tests, as well as the forthcoming launch campaign, commissioning stage, and deployment sequence. Based on this information, and findings from previous boards, NASA will present an assessment of the project, including a more specific launch date, to Congress this summer.

NASA has already invested billions of dollars in the James Webb Space Telescope, so it's not surprising the agency wants to put the instrument through as much testing as possible before launching. After almost canceling the mission in 2011, Congress voted to cap all additional funding for the project at US$8 billion. In response, NASA will increase its engineering oversight, make some personnel changes, and institute new management reporting structures that will involve daily progress reports from Northrop Grumman.

This is a pivotal year for Webb when the 6.5-meter telescope and science payload element will be joined with the spacecraft element to form the complete observatory. And there's what nasa calls the spacecraft element, which consists of a five-layer, tennis-court-sized sun shield that will help Webb cool down enough to work, along with a spacecraft bus, which will house the observatory's computer systems and solar panels.

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"Webb has already completed an extensive range of tests to ensure it will safely reach its orbit at almost one million miles from Earth and perform its science mission".

The next-gen space telescope will now be released in 2020. Both halves of the 13,500-pound observatory now are together in the same facility for the first time.

The spacecraft module will next undergo environmental testing, subjecting it to the vibrational, acoustic and thermal environments it will experience during its launch and operations. "These tests will take a few months to complete", NASA now reports. NASA and Northrop Grumman have identified fixes for these problems, but their repair has added months of delays to the project, and engineers can not be sure that more issues will not crop up during further testing.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD), confirmed that, with the ongoing technical challenges, NASA officials may exceed Congress' original $8.8 billion cost cap for the project.

ESA is providing the Ariane 5 as part of its scientific collaboration. Unlike Hubble, which was in low Earth orbit and could be repaired by astronauts when a flaw in its main mirror was revealed after launch, the JWST will be a million miles from Earth, four times as far as the moon."It's this really important balance between pushing and being considerate and absolutely thoughtful about where we're going", Lightfoot said.

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