The launch of the James Webb space telescope was postponed for a year


The launch of the new James Webb space telescope was postponed until May 2020 due to the lack of time necessary for ground-based testing of all telescope systems. This is reported  in a press release of the National Aerospace Administration of the United States (NASA).

The name “James Webb” was given to the telescope in 2002, before that it was called NGST (Next Generation Space Telescope). The Space Observatory is being developed since 1996 and should replace the Hubble telescope . “James Webb” will explore the universe in the infrared part of the spectrum, in which one can observe more ancient and colder objects, for example, protoplanetary disks and galaxies  of the Réonization era . Previously, NASA and ESA published a list of the first goals for “James Webb”, more about its device and scientific program can be read in our material .

Now, separate parts (a sun shield and a main mirror with scientific instruments) of the space observatory are located in the workshops of the company Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in California, where the testing and preparation for the final assembly of the telescope is in progress.

The timing of the launch of the telescope has repeatedly been postponed for various reasons. Earlier, the launch was scheduled for mid-2019 from the Kourou cosmodrome in French Guiana, and the Arian 5 launch vehicle will place the observatory in orbit . However, now the launch window was moved to May 2020, this is due to the allocation of additional time for testing all telescope systems after its final assembly. Engineers and scientists want to be completely sure that James Webb will successfully survive the flight into space, deploy its main mirror and sun shield at the second point of Lagrange and will be ready for scientific work. At the same time, there are fears that the total cost of the mission will exceed eight billion dollars, and overruns will negatively affect other missions. The first results obtained by Webb will also be important in the preparation of the 10-year plan for astrophysical research , and the delay in obtaining them can greatly affect its final version.

Previously, we talked about how the look of the mirror looks like “a mirror of James Webb” and how a chemical imbalance in the atmosphere of the exoplanet will point the telescope to the possible presence of life on it.

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