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James Webb Space Telescope Launch Delayed Again

James Webb Space Telescope Launch Delayed Again
(NASA)

By    |   Thursday, 28 June 2018 10:19 AM

The James Webb Space Telescope, the state-of-the-art galaxy viewfinder and long-awaited replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope, has been delayed again, this time till 2021, The Atlantic magazine reported Wednesday.

The space telescope, which was supposed to have launched into space as early as 2007 has repeatedly run into problems ranging from human errors in building the complex telescope to sun shield and wiring errors have added roughly $837 million to the budget, the Los Angeles Times wrote.

The cost overruns put the project over the $8 billion cap Congress had set for it, the Times said, leaving NASA to return to Capitol Hill with hat in hand.

"I'm not happy sitting here having to share this story," Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Atlantic. "We never want to do this. We always want to talk about the successes that we have."

The James Webb Telescope will be the most powerful NASA has ever built. It also differs from Hubble because it will be parked a million miles away from Earth, out of reach of tool-carrying astronauts if something goes wrong, hence the extreme attention to detail.

"Webb is vital to the next generation of research beyond NASA's Hubble Space Telescope," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement Wednesday. "It's going to do amazing things – things we've never been able to do before – as we peer into other galaxies and see light from the very dawn of time.

"Despite major challenges, the board and NASA unanimously agree that Webb will achieve mission success with the implementation of the board's recommendations, many of which already are underway," Bridenstine continued.

The telescope will essentially be folded when it launches from Earth inside an Arianespace's Ariane 5 launch vehicle roughly 16 feet wide, according to NASA. Once in space, the observatory will slowly unfurl in a series of intricate deployments.

When fully expanded, Webb's primary mirror will span more than 21 feet and its sunshield will stretch to the size of a tennis court, NASA said.

NASA has increased its oversight of Northrup Grumman's handling of the project, The Atlantic said. The telescope is being built at the contractor's Space Park facility in Redondo Beach, California and the company has taken some of the heat for Webb's past problems and delays.

"We recognize that issues we have encountered have impacted the program," the company said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We have put the people, processes and tools in place to be successful and help prevent further issues. We are aggressively addressing process and schedule, but we will not sacrifice quality for schedule. Mission success is our number one priority."

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The James Webb Space Telescope, the state-of-the-art galaxy viewfinder and long-awaited replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope, has been delayed again, this time till 2021.
james webb, space, telescope, delayed
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2018-19-28
Thursday, 28 June 2018 10:19 AM
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