NASA Delays James Webb Space Telescope Launch Due to Weather – ExtremeTech

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Stop me if you’ve heard this, but the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed. This time it’s not about engineering, assembly or transportation, it’s the weather. NASA had planned to launch the fabulously expensive spacecraft on December 24, but now that has been pushed to christmas day at the earliest.

Of course, this is far from being Webb’s first launch schedule. The telescope, which has been in some planning or construction stage for almost 20 years, has suffered more delays than we can count. As recently as earlier this year, NASA expected an October launch, and then it slid into November, and then December 18, 22, and 24. Will it be released at Christmas? Perhaps, and what a gift it would be for astronomers. Or it could be charcoal in her socks if something goes wrong.

The James Webb Space Telescope is Hubble’s spiritual successor, which is in its last stages due to components failing left and right a decade after the final service mission. Webb has a larger mirror and instruments that will allow it to scan deeper into the infrared. NASA hopes that this telescope can observe the beginning of the universe and characterize nearby exoplanets. First, it has to go into orbit.

Webb is already at the ESA launch site in French Guiana. There, it was docked to an Ariane 5 rocket, which is your average disposable launch pad. After leaving the atmosphere, Webb will spend about a month moving to his final position at the Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange point. Along the way, there are hundreds of things that have to go right for the telescope to work, but none of that will matter if the launch doesn’t go perfectly.

1640468997 789 NASA Delays James Webb Space Telescope Launch Due to Weather

NASA will use ESA’s Ariane 5 rocket to take the telescope into space.

It is not difficult to understand why NASA would delay another day. If the weather isn’t optimal, there’s no reason to risk an irreplaceable piece of hardware like Webb. Basically, we have screwed the annual GDP of a small country into a metal tube and filled it with explosive liquid. We all hope that the explosion will only come off one end and successfully push the telescope into space.

Twenty years of work and ten billion dollars comes down to this point, and NASA wants to make sure you pick the right one. Currently, the launch window appears as 7: 20-7: 52 AM ET on Christmas morning.

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