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posted by martyb on Monday July 20 2020, @05:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the trick-or-telescope dept.

NASA Ominously Chooses Halloween 2021 to Launch Long-Delayed Space Telescope:

NASA hopes to launch the much-anticipated James Webb Space Telescope [(JWST)] from French Guiana on October 31, 2021, the agency announced today. Ongoing technical challenges and the covid-19 pandemic were cited as reasons for the latest delay to the project.

[...] The new date—October 31, 2021—represents a seven-month delay from the most recent launch target of March 2021 atop an Ariane 5 rocket.

[...] James Webb is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which is now 30 years old. The project is currently in the integration and testing phase of development, the final phase before it gets transported to French Guiana. Once in space, some million miles away from Earth, Webb will use its infrared telescope to observe some of the oldest galaxies in the universe, study star-forming nebulae, and even scan the atmospheres of distant exoplanets.

[...] At a NASA press conference earlier today, Gregory Robinson, JWST program director, said the decision to move the launch from March 2021 to October 2021 had to do with lingering development challenges and hardships imposed by the covid-19 pandemic. NASA, he said, was planning to re-evaluate the project's schedule margins prior to covid-19, but the pandemic forced the issue, resulting in yet another delay.

When asked to account for the seven-month delay, Robinson said three months had to do with covid-19 and two months had to do with existing technical issues, such as pending vibration testing, a review of the telescope's new sunshield, risk-reduction measures, among other outstanding tasks. The remaining two months were added as a buffer, said Robinson.

NASA's press release.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20 2020, @02:40PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20 2020, @02:40PM (#1024123)

    It's ominous because every time they've announced a potential launch date, it ends up moving further into the future. Announcing launch dates turns out to portend launch slip announcements.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by fyngyrz on Monday July 20 2020, @04:34PM

    by fyngyrz (6567) on Monday July 20 2020, @04:34PM (#1024152) Journal

    Slips are good, not ominous. They mean there's an issue that needs to be addressed, and time is being made for that. Issues that need to be addressed, but aren't, tend to have unfortunate consequences, up to and including loss of the vehicle and its payload.

    I'll give you that a slip can be disappointing to someone who has some form of eagerness on the line, but that's hardly an important consideration when we're talking about missing success.

    So again, no: not ominous. Quite the opposite. Here's ominous:

    "The launch needs to be delayed, but won't be."

    That is fucking ominous. 😊

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