Edinburgh / Washington, 23 November 2021. – James Webb Space Telescope’s launch date has been moved for the fourth time, to no earlier than 22nd December, NASA reported. The additional time will be used for further testing of the observatory, following a recent incident during launch preparations.
Webb was previously scheduled to launch 18th December on an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou. In preparation to that, technicians were preparing to attach Webb to the launch vehicle adapter used to integrate the observatory with the rocket’s upper stage. During the operations, a sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band securing Webb to the adapter caused a vibration throughout the spacecraft.
A NASA-led anomaly review board is currently investigating the incident. Additional testing is needed to determine whether it has caused damage to any of the components. The testing is planned to be completed by the end of this week. NASA and its mission partners will provide an update as soon as it is available.
Webb is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. It will explore every phase of cosmic history and will help humanity understand the origins of the universe, NASA said.