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posted by Fnord666 on Thursday October 08 2020, @12:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the looking-forward-to-first-light dept.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope passes crucial launch-simulation tests:

NASA's next big space telescope just took another step toward its highly anticipated 2021 launch.

The $9.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has passed "environmental testing," a series of trials designed to simulate the considerable rigors of launch, NASA officials announced today (Oct. 6).

"The successful completion of our observatory environmental tests represent[s] a monumental milestone in the march to launch," Webb project manager Bill Ochs, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said today in a statement. "Environmental testing demonstrates Webb's ability to survive the rocket ride to space, which is the most violent portion of its trip to orbit approximately a million miles from Earth."

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The Launch Date for the James Webb Space Telescope has Slipped Again 3 comments

It looks like the launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope has slipped again. It was slated to launch this coming Halloween but now it will be at mid-November at the earliest.

According to Ars Technica:

Last summer, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) set an October 31, 2021, launch date for the $10 billion telescope. The instrument, which is the largest science observatory ever placed into space, will launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket from a spaceport in French Guiana. Now, however, three considerations have pushed the launch into November or possibly early December.

[...] The launch campaign, which begins when the telescope arrives in French Guiana, requires 55 days. Asked whether this means that Webb will not launch until mid-November at the earliest, Zurbuchen said this assessment was correct.

Engadget added:

A delay of a few weeks is not much, considering the initial launch timeframe was around 2007. Still, there are reasons for optimism. Pushing back the launch by weeks rather than months or years is an indication that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter for the successor to Hubble.


  1. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Passes Crucial Launch-Simulation Tests
  2. NASA's Webb to Examine Objects in the Graveyard of the Solar System
  3. NASA Ominously Chooses Halloween 2021 to Launch Long-Delayed Space Telescope
  4. James Webb Space Telescope Will "Absolutely" Not Launch in March
  5. New Exoplanet Life Detection Method for James Webb Telescope

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JWST Launch Christmas Morning 55 comments

James Webb Space Telescope reaches launch pad for Christmas liftoff

The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch on Saturday (Dec. 25) during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT). The massive observatory will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket operated by European launch provider Arianespace. You can watch launch coverage live at beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) courtesy of NASA or you can watch directly at the agency's website.

ESA launch kit (PDF).


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08 2020, @01:28PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08 2020, @01:28PM (#1062064)

    Have they taken it to an optometrist?

  • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Thursday October 08 2020, @03:49PM (3 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday October 08 2020, @03:49PM (#1062126) Journal

    Nearly $10 billion in costs? I hope they get it launched, but that's begging to be chopped. The fate of the Superconducting Supercollider was exactly that, cancelled after costs reached the 10 digit neighborhood.

    What happened to NASA's drive to more cost efficiency? Granted, the International Space Station is ten times as much. Well, maybe if the deficit hawks come for NASA, they can shield the James Webb by pointing to the ISS.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday October 08 2020, @05:54PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday October 08 2020, @05:54PM (#1062172) Journal

      It's literally too big to fail.

      What happened to NASA's drive to more cost efficiency?

      You seem late to this saga. Cost efficiency was a goal of JWST... back in the 90s when it was being developed: []

      In the "faster, better, cheaper" era in the mid-1990s, NASA leaders pushed for a low-cost space telescope. The result was the NGST concept, with an 8-meter aperture and located at L2, roughly estimated to cost US$500 million. In 1997, NASA worked with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and TRW to conduct technical requirement and cost studies, and in 1999 selected Lockheed Martin and TRW for preliminary concept studies. Launch was at that time planned for 2007, but the launch date has subsequently been pushed back many times (see table further down).

      In 2003, NASA awarded the US$824.8 million prime contract for the NGST, now renamed the James Webb Space Telescope, to TRW. The design called for a descoped 6.1 metres (20 ft) primary mirror and a launch date of 2010. Later that year, TRW was acquired by Northrop Grumman in a hostile bid and became Northrop Grumman Space Technology.

      Since then, A Lot Of Things Happened.

      Preventing this from happening to future telescopes requires a paradigm shift, especially away from years of redundant testing to try to avoid failure. Folding mechanisms should be cut in favor of modular designs that can be assembled in orbit. Lowered launch costs using fully reusable rockets will also help.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 2) by cmdrklarg on Thursday October 08 2020, @09:28PM (1 child)

      by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Thursday October 08 2020, @09:28PM (#1062235)

      Boy that would suck if that Ariane5 had an RUD when launching the JWST. All that pain and cost for nothing.

      The world is full of kings and queens who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08 2020, @09:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 08 2020, @09:54PM (#1062250)

        Nature of the biz. You spend a decent chunk of your working career, say, on a planetary probe, then have it be DOA or something. It isn't wasted time and effort for the skills and experience you develop (and if you're lucky, you've gotten a number of refereed pubs and/or conference talks out of it), but it is a major major disappointment nonetheless.