The launch of the USD 10 billion James Webb space telescope has been delayed yet again. NASA cited an incident that occurred during the final preparations to place the telescope on top of its launch vehicle. The spacecraft was scheduled to launch into orbit on December 18, 2021, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the date of launch has been delayed to December 22, 2021.
The space telescope has been transported to the Kuru Space Port in French Guiana. James Webb space telescope is an international cooperation project between NASA, ESA, and the Canadian Space Agency.
The incident that made the delay occurred as the technicians were preparing to attach the Webb to the launch vehicle adaptor. The adaptor fixes the telescope to the upper stage of the rocket. According to NASA, “a sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band” took place. The concerned band ensures that the spacecraft separates from the rocket. However, the accidental release of the clamp band had caused a vibration to travel through the telescope.
This obviously is a very important mission for NASA, and this is not the first time that the space agency had to delay or postpone the launch of the telescope. However, NASA needs to make sure with absolute certainty that everything leading up to the launch gets done without any issues.
Now NASA needs to make sure that the telescope is still in perfect condition, and as such NASA has convened an anomaly board that will investigate the incident and conducts additional tests on the telescope to ensure that no damage has been done to the telescope.
NASA will proceed with the launch preparations only after the report of the concerned committee gives a green light to the launch. Once the testing and evaluation are completed, while also ensuring that the telescope is not damaged, preparations for the launch will resume.