NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope, humanity’s next great eye on the universe, will launch on December 18. It’s the latest in a series of delays for a telescope that was supposed to go into space as early as 2007.

The $ 8.8 billion observatories, the tennis court-sized successor to NASA’s famous Hubble Telescope and named after NASA’s second administrator, are a court-sized successor to tennis at NASA’s famous Hubble Telescope. The spacecraft’s 18 gold-plated hexagonal mirrors will allow it to see neighboring planets and the far reaches of the universe in a degree of detail far exceeding that of Hubble.

Astronomers had been anticipating the telescope’s launch for years, but delays, development issues and cost overruns slowed the progress of the project. James Webb was initially budgeted at $ 1 billion by NASA and Northrop Grumman, the telescope’s main contractor, with a launch date of 2007. By 2011, the target launch date had been pushed back to 2018, but costs had increased. due to development incidents.

The most recent delay had nothing to do with the telescope. Due to issues with its payload fairings discovered on two separate trade missions in 2020, the Ariane 5 rocket that James Webb will launch on has been effectively grounded for almost a year. In July, the rocket successfully launched a group of satellites.

NASA announced the new date after consulting with Arianespace, the French company whose Ariane 5 rocket will launch James Webb into space from a launch site managed by the European Space Agency in Kourou, French Guiana (ESA). The observatory, which is a joint project of NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency, completed final tests late last month and is now being shipped. Before being sent to Kourou, engineers will enclose the spaceship in a custom shipping container.

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