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James Webb Space Telescope to Launch in October 2021

on 22 July 2020

The launch of the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana is now planned for 31 October 2021.

NASA has announced the decision, based on a recently completed schedule risk assessment of the remaining integration and test activities before launch, accounting for impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and technical challenges. Previously, Webb was targeted to launch in March 2021.

Testing of the observatory continues to go well at Northrop Grumman, the mission's main industry partner in Redondo Beach, California, despite the challenges of the coronavirus situation. The factors for the new launch date include the impacts of augmented safety precautions, reduced on-site personnel, shift work disruption and technical challenges. This year, a final set of complex environmental tests of the full observatory will be completed followed by a final deployment of the telescope and sunshield.

As part of the collaboration with NASA, Europe is contributing to the Webb observatory with two critical scientific instruments – the NIRSpec spectrograph and the MIRI mid-infrared instrument – and the launch service using the Ariane 5 launch vehicle. In addition, there is a contingent of ESA scientists and engineers supporting the observatory development and science operations.

More details about the launch can be found at this link.

Image credit: NASA/Chris Gunn