Space telescope launch
Webb Telescope Launch Moved to Dec. 24
NASA and the European Space Agency have rescheduled the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope to Dec. 24. Liftoff was originally slated for Dec. 22.
According to the Space Telescope Science Insititute and other sources, takeoff was moved to the new date due to a communications problem between the Arianespace Ariane 5 spacecraft and ground equipment. The two space agencies confirmed the new launch date on Saturday after JWST was encapsulated within the payload fairing.
Daniel Neuenschwander, director of space transportation at ESA, said the problem was with the cable in the launch table between the JWST and the ground equipment. The cable issue caused intermittent data cutoffs, he shared.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, explained that the cable issue delayed a final “aliveness test” for spacecraft systems. Zurbuchen said completing the aliveness test would pave the way for the next steps that would eventually lead to the launch.
Officials were able to proceed with the aliveness test hours after the issue was first spotted, SpaceNews reported.
The Webb telescope is an infrared observatory that will complement and extend the discoveries of the Hubble Space Telescope. It will provide longer wavelength coverage and improved sensitivities to find out more about how the universe started and how the first galaxies were formed.
Ariane 5 is a heavy-lift launcher that can carry up to 10 metric tons of payload to geostationary transfer orbits and up to 10 metric tons of cargo into low-Earth orbit. It delivers payload for commercial and government customers.
Tags: Ariane 5 Daniel Neuenschwander European Space Agency James Webb Space Telescope NASA space SpaceNews Thomas Zurbuchen