NASA has again postponed the launch date of the James Webb Space Telescope from December 18 to December 22, 2021.
This is due to an abnormal situation that arose during the connection of the observatory with the payload adapter of the launch vehicle. Now the engineers need time for additional tests.
James Webb became the record holder for the time of creation: its development began in 1996, but the assembly was completed only in 2019, and tests started at the end of this summer.
Thus, the construction of the telescope took 25 years (with a planned service life of 5-10 years).
Nevertheless, astronomers have high hopes for the observatory - it will conduct observations in the infrared range for a variety of objects in the Universe and will help make many discoveries.
NASA announced on November 22 that during the preparation of the telescope for launch into space, an abnormal situation had occurred at the Kourou space center.
During the process of connecting the folded in flight configuration of the observatory with the payload adapter of the Ariane-5 launch vehicle, an unscheduled removal of the locking tape occurred
This tape holds the telescope and adapter together and should only open during the separation process of the observatory in space.
In the wake of the incident, NASA-led Anomaly Analysis Commission has initiated a series of additional inspections of the telescope, due to be completed later this week.
As for the opening date of the start window for the observatory, it has been postponed from December 18 to December 22, 2021.
If the telescope fails to start on that day, then the start can take place on any of the 21 days of the start window.
The flight of "James Webb" to the second Lagrange point in the Sun-Earth system will take four weeks, and scientific work will begin no earlier than six months after launch.