NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the spiritual successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the most advanced space telescope ever built, will have to wait a little longer to get to orbit. After an assessment of remaining testing and integration work, NASA announced that it is pushing the targeted launch date for James Webb back from October 2018 to sometime between March and June 2019.
The space agency says the telescope launch is not being delayed due to any technical or hardware flaws, but because the spacecraft to carry the telescope—which consists of a spacecraft bus and sunshield—is taking longer to integrate than expected. These two major components are being assembled at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California, where technicians have run into delays.
"Webb's spacecraft and sunshield are larger and more complex than most spacecraft," said Eric Smith, program director for James Webb. "The combination of some integration activities taking longer than initially planned, such as the installation of more than 100 sunshield membrane release devices, factoring in lessons learned from earlier testing, like longer time spans for vibration testing, has meant the integration and testing process is just taking longer. Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systematically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch."... More
. ......RELATED: After 20 Years, NASA Finally Finished Building the James Webb Space Telescope... "Now It's Ready For the Final Tests Before Launch in 2018"
Twenty years ago, scientists began assembling a next-generation telescope that would be the successor for the Hubble. Now, NASA engineers have announced that construction of the James Webb Telescope (JWST) is finally complete. The telescope, which is twice the size of Hubble with a 21-foot mirror, is ready for testing before its scheduled launch in October 2018.
"Today, we're celebrating the fact that our telescope is finished, and we're about to prove that it works," said John Mather, an astrophysicist and senior project scientist for the telescope at a news conference reported by Space.com.
Inspired by the success of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA and its European and Canadian counterparts collaborated on the design and construction of the JWST. The resulting telescope is bigger and more powerful than the Hubble, giving it the ability to see the first galaxies born after the Big Bang. The observations it makes will not only help scientists understand the origins of the universe, but also search for signs of life on faraway planets... More ... (Popular Science - November 3, 2016)
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), previously known as Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), is a Flagship-class space observatory under construction and scheduled to launch in October 2018. The JWST will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity from long-wavelength (orange-red) visible light, through near-infrared to the mid-infrared (0.6 to 27 micrometers), and is a successor instrument to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope. While Hubble has a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, the JWST features a larger and segmented 6.5-meter-diameter (21 ft 4 in) primary mirror and will be located near the Earth–Sun L2 point. A large sunshield will keep its mirror and four science instruments below 50 K (−220 °C; −370 °F).
JWST's capabilities will enable a broad range of investigations across the fields of astronomy and cosmology. One particular goal involves observing some of the most distant events and objects in the Universe, such as the formation of the first galaxies. These types of targets are beyond the reach of current ground and space-based instruments. Another goal is understanding the formation of stars and planets. This will include direct imaging of exoplanets.
In gestation since 1996, the project represents an international collaboration of about 17 countries led by NASA, and with significant contributions from the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. It is named after James E. Webb, the second administrator of NASA, who played an integral role in the Apollo program.
The JWST has a history of major cost overruns and delays. The first realistic budget estimates were that the observatory would cost $1.6 billion and launch in 2011. NASA has now scheduled the telescope for a 2018 launch. In 2011, the United States House of Representatives voted to terminate funding, after about $3 billion had been spent and 75% of its hardware was in production. Funding was restored and capped at $8 billion. As of winter 2015–2016, the telescope remained on schedule for an October 2018 launch and within the 2011 revised budget. ... More... (Wikipedia)
Engineers are ready to conduct a series of tests on the completed James Webb Space Telescope.