Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

The Launch Of James Webb Postponed To The End Of October 2021

The Launch Of James Webb Postponed To The End Of October 2021

NASA has again postponed the launch date for the James Webb telescope by seven months; it is now scheduled to take place on October 31, 2021. This decision is caused by delays and difficulties in working with the telescope, which was caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, according to the NASA website.

The James Webb Space Observatory is to be the successor to the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. Its main composite mirror, measuring 6.5 meters, is five times larger in area than the Hubble primary mirror, and a five-layer protective screen will help minimize thermal interference during observations. The telescope will operate in a halo orbit around the second Lagrange point in the Sun-Earth system. Astronomers around the world have high hopes for it.the telescope will search for galaxies that existed in the era of Reionization, study the processes of star formation and formation of planetary systems, and study clusters of stars and galaxies, distant quasars and the atmospheres of exoplanets.

The fully assembled telescope is currently located in a cleanroom at Northrop Grumman Space Systems in California, where it is undergoing a series of tests that have already confirmed the correct deployment of the protective screen, main mirror and support tower of the telescope and its conversion to a flight configuration.

On July 13, 2020, specialists announced the completion of the first of the final complex (acoustic, vibration, and electrical) tests of the telescope, which lasted 15 days. In a few months, after the Observatory completes a second such test, engineers will once again check all its systems to detect anomalies. If all goes well, the telescope will again be converted to a flight configuration and sent to the Kourou spaceport.

The complexity and uniqueness of the telescope's design have led to the fact that its launch date, originally scheduled for 2007, has been repeatedly postponed, and the total cost of the project has already reached $ 9.66 billion, excluding contributions from the European and Canadian space agencies. Until recently, the launch date was considered to be March 30, 2021, but on July 16, 2020, NASA announced that due to delays and difficulties in operation due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, the launch was postponed to October 31, 2021. At the same time, the agency hopes to complete all remaining work on the telescope within the new schedule without attracting additional funds.

What astronomers hope to learn about the Universe with the help of "James Webb," you can find out from our material "What will the Hubble replacement see?"