The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has postponed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. The much-anticipated telescope scheduled to be launched in October 2018 will now be launched sometime between March and June 2019.
The extraordinary device is set to take the place of the Hubble Space Telescope and will be the biggest and most advanced space telescope in the world. It will have the ability to detect the infra-red spectrum and analyze the atmospheres of other planets both within and outside the solar system.
NASA, under its existing arrangement with the European Space Agency, is required to supply a one-year launch window before the telescope is put into orbit and decided after a recent analysis that it was imperative to postpone the launch. The telescope will act as the principal observatory for the US, Europe, and Canada.
No Major Issue In Delay
The Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, said in a statement to the press that the schedule change is as a result of the complexities involved in integrating the various components of the spacecraft. He also assured the public that the delay does not signify issues with hardware or the technical operation of the telescope and that testing and evaluation of the device is proceeding successfully.
The Program Director for the James Webb Space Telescope, Eric Smith, has also stated that the component integration, such as the installation of over a hundred sunshield membrane release devices, has taken more time than was initially estimated.
He noted that the project is a significant financial investment, and as such, they would proceed cautiously with testing. NASA has also stated that the change in schedule would have no adverse effect on the existing project budget of $8.7 billion. The launch is set to take place in French Guiana, South America.