Science

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Till 2020

James Webb Space Telescope
By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Everyone has been looking forward to NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, as it is supposed to revolutionize space exploration. However, the space agency has announced that it has (again) delayed the launch of the long-anticipated telescope, that is hoped to shed light on Mars, and other foreign worlds. Given that the launch is delayed until May 2020, it pushes the launch date of the telescope out to more than a year away.

In NASA’s announcement, it states that the engineers will need to do further testing on the space telescope’s systems until it’s fully ready to operate. The delays, when it comes to NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, are not rare. As a result of the most recent delay, the space agency could exceed its $8.8 billion Congress mandated cap for the telescope. That means that NASA would need to ask lawmakers to provide more money for further testing and completion of the space telescope.

Nevertheless, the telescope already has its primary mirror and other required instruments completed. The main contractor of NASA, Northrop Grumman, was supposed to have added the last set of instruments to the telescope. Shortly after, the Government Accountability Office released a report that shows that the construction has fallen behind.

Also, the report states that Webb’s sunshield got torn during testing, The sunshield is quite large, the size of a tennis court, and NASA engineers needed to fix this, which delayed the progress. In another press release, NASA stated that the hardware of the telescope that allows its flight is complete. However, the space agency will need to increase efforts on completion and testing of the telescope.

When NASA held the press conference announcing that the telescope launch is delayed, the space agency said that it was 70% confident that the telescope would meet its May 2020 launch date, adding that several mistakes that occurred at the time the telescope was being assembled at Northrop Grumman affected meeting the deadline.

According to a report, Northrop Grumman had people working on building the telescope 24 hours a day. In order to finish NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the space agency will establish an external Independent Review Board (IRB) so that it can get a more accurate launch date for the project. This board joins asthe second board established by NASA, the first being the Standing Review Board.

The famous Hubble Space Telescope is located in low-Earth orbit. However, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope will be located beyond the orbit of the moon, and its temperature will be kept as low as possible, nearly reaching absolute zero, thanks to the coverage of the sunshield. That temperature state could allow the telescope to track the stars and galaxies considered to be the first in the universe. Its collecting power, also, will be seven times larger compared to the Hubble Space Telescope.