NASA has delayed the launch of its powerful new James Webb Space Telescope until May 2020.
The space observatory is currently undergoing final integration and test phases. NASA claimed that it needs more time to ensure a successful mission considering the amount of work on the highly complex space observatory still left uncompleted.
This is the reason that NASA has postponed James Webb Space Telescope’s scheduled launch date to approximately May 2020 from the previously set spring 2019 launch window.
“Webb is the highest priority project for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, and the largest international space science project in US history,” NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, noted in a statement.
He added that while all of the observatory’s flight hardware is now complete, the issues related to the spacecraft element have prompted them to take the necessary steps to refocus their efforts on the completion of the observatory.
Recent findings from the project’s Standing Review Board (SRB) suggest that the space agency requires more time to test and integrate the observatory’s telescope element and spacecraft element together and to perform environmental testing at the project’s observatory contractor, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California.
Notably, these tests will require a few more months to complete. After the tests, engineers will integrate and test the fully assembled observatory to ensure that all the components work together properly. It is expected that the delay in James Webb Space Telescope’s launch will also raise the project’s $8 billion projected development cost.
Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said that they will make sure that the telescope’s launch takes place in 2020.
The NASA officials have also assured that the delay in James Webb Space Telescope’s launch will not in any manner affect the upcoming launch of the space agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.