Published: Thu, March 29, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

NASA announces more delays for giant space telescope

NASA announces more delays for giant space telescope

James Webb Space Telescope was proposed more than two decades ago and the estimated cost of the project was quoted at $1 billion United States dollars that was sanctioned by the Congress.

The massive space telescope, which has already cost US$7.3 billion to develop, was a top priority in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's 2000 Decadal Survey.

"This is a pivotal year for Webb when the 6.5-meter telescope and science payload element will be joined with the spacecraft element to form the complete observatory", NASA reports in Tuesday's release.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said, "Considering the investment NASA and our worldwide partners have made, we want to proceed systematically through these last tests, with the additional time necessary, to be ready for a May 2020 launch". The JWST was already supposed to be in space at this point, but it's a complicated project costing more than $8 billion to date.

Earlier, we've been talking about the fact that the James Webb Space Telescope might face big development delays.

TESS will spend its two-year prime mission using its four special cameras to hunt for "transits", the tiny brightness dips that result when alien planets cross their host stars' faces from TESS' perspective. This new delay is caused by a combination of new issues as well as a better understanding of the severity of those previous problems. Last month, President Donald Trump proposed cancelling WFIRST; astronomers protested, and Congress has restored it for now with a $150-million injection of funds.

"Webb is the highest priority project for the agency's Science Mission Directorate, and the largest worldwide space science project in US history." said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

Previous year in September, NASA was hoping to launch the telescope in 2018, however, due to issues with the assembly, the project launch was postponed to 2019.

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Since 2011, JWST was on track for its possible launch in 2018, but when the project moved into integration and testing, things got complicated. This Independent Review Board (IRB) will be led by Thomas Young, "a highly respected person at NASA and in this industry", the agency said in a statement.

Even though, the telescope and instruments have been passed the standalone tests, the team who is in charge of developing the satellite is now running under some problems, NASA informed. So engineers have folded the telescope like origami to fit.

Northrop staff are now working 3 shifts, 24 hours a day, but can not work on enough parts simultaneously to stay on schedule.

According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, Northrop Grumman staff are working three shifts, 24 hours a day, to handle the issues. Then, Northrop Grumman personnel will assemble the full telescope-which will weigh 13,500 pounds-and test it again. Not only did the thin, five-layer sun shield snag during the deployment, but technicians also found seven tears up to 10cm long within the material.

JWST is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which launched back in 1990.

NASA has been planning to launch a powerful new telescope that can see across the universe and perhaps to the beginning of time for many years now.

When it eventually goes into space, it will search of the very first stars to shine in the Universe. The delays, when it comes to NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, are not rare. NASA will also have to figure out how to accommodate the extra costs - perhaps by taking them out of the operations budget for JWST, penalizing Northrop or delaying WFIRST or other projects.

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