NASA has delayed the launch of its highly anticipated James Webb Space Telescope. The space agency officials have announced that the telescope will now launch in March 2021, instead of May 2020. James Webb Space Telescope is now scheduled to launch on March 30, 2021.
The decision to postpone the telescope’s launch was taken after Independent Review Board members recommended that development of the observatory will require more time. NASA established the IRB to assess the progress on the telescope. The board has cited technical issues including human errors, excessive optimism, systems complexity, and a lack of experience in key areas, such as sunshade development have affected the development schedule.
According to NASA officials, the James Webb Space Telescope’s development cost has increased from $8 billion to $8.8 billion and the total lifecycle cost of the telescope is now at $9.66 billion.
“We have to get this right here on the ground before we go to space,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “And I just want to re-emphasize: Webb is worth the wait.”
Tom Young, chairman of the review board, said it’s important to ensure that every element of Webb functions properly before it gets to space. It will be critical to its success.
Despite the increasing cost and the long wait for the development and launch of the telescope, the US space agency is hopeful that the Webb telescope will help in coming up with a lot of discoveries in the field of astronomy, which will help answer many questions about the solar system’s origin.
The new launch date of the Hubble Space Telescope successor is set to accommodate changes in schedules affected by environmental testing and work performance issues. Unlike Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope will not be sitting in low-Earth orbit. Instead, it will sit beyond the orbit of the Moon to study the first stars and galaxies in the universe as well as hunt for possible signs of life in the atmospheres of nearby alien planets.