NASA announced Thursday that the launch of the $ 10 billion Large James Webb Space Telescope by an Ariane 5 rocket would be postponed again, to October 31, 2021 instead of March, due to the pandemic and other development concerns. . The telescope, envisioned in the 1990s, was originally slated for launch in the 2000s, but countless development issues at lead manufacturer Northrop Grumman led to multiple postponements and a doubling of cost.
” Webb is the world’s most complex space observatory and our top scientific priority, we’ve been working hard to keep moving forward during the pandemic ”NASA Scientific Director Thomas Zurbuchen said. During the previous report, in June 2018, many NASA officials repeated that “Webb is worth the wait.” The telescope, once its solar shield is unfolded, will be as big as ” a tennis court “, and its main mirror will measure 6.5 meters in diameter, immense in order to “Detect the faint glow of distant stars and galaxies”, and three times more sensitive than Hubble, launched in 1990.
Launched from Kourou in Guyana, it will be placed in orbit around the Sun, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Its total cost was estimated by NASA in 2018 at 9.66 billion dollars, against 4.5 billion in 2007.