- Nov 20, 2007
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NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now is planning to launch between March and June 2019 from French Guiana, following a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities. Previously Webb was targeted to launch in October 2018.
“The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington. “Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected.”
As part of an international agreement with the ESA (European Space Agency) to provide a desired launch window one year prior to launch, NASA recently performed a routine schedule assessment to ensure launch preparedness and determined a launch schedule change was necessary. The careful analysis took into account the remaining tasks that needed to be completed, the lessons learned from unique environmental testing of the telescope and science instruments at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the current performance rates of integrating the spacecraft element.
Testing of the telescope and science instruments continues to go well and on schedule at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The spacecraft itself, comprised of the spacecraft bus and sunshield, has experienced delays during its integration and testing at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California.
The additional environmental testing time of the fully assembled observatory--the telescope and the spacecraft--will ensure that Webb will be fully tested before launching into space. All the rigorous tests of the telescope and the spacecraft to date show the mission is meeting its required performance levels.
Existing program budget accommodates the change in launch date, and the change will not affect planned science observations.
“Webb’s spacecraft and sunshield are larger and more complex than most spacecraft. The combination of some integration activities taking longer than initially planned, such as the installation of more than 100 sunshield membrane release devices, factoring in lessons learned from earlier testing, like longer time spans for vibration testing, has meant the integration and testing process is just taking longer,” said Eric Smith, program director for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systemmatically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch.”
The launch window request has been coordinated with ESA, which is providing the Ariane 5 launch of Webb as part of its scientific collaboration with NASA.
The telescope’s combined science instruments and optical element recently completed about 100 days of cryogenic testing inside Johnson’s Chamber A, a massive thermal vacuum testing chamber at the center. Scientists and engineers at Johnson put Webb through a series of tests designed to ensure the telescope functioned as expected in an extremely cold, airless environment akin to that of space.
This move outside the chamber brings Webb one step closer to its journey to Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, where it will be integrated with its spacecraft element to form the complete James Webb Space Telescope observatory. The spacecraft element is Webb’s combined sunshield and spacecraft bus.
Arrived at California!
Further testing and integration at Northtop Grumman facility.
NASAâ€™s James Webb Space Telescope Arrives at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in California - YouTube
NASA: Combined Optics, Science Instruments of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Arrive in California
The two halves of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope now reside at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, where they will come together to form the complete observatory.
Webb’s optical telescope and integrated science instrument module (OTIS) arrived at Northrop Grumman Feb. 2, from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it successfully completed cryogenic testing.
The Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS), a specially designed shipping container that held the optical telescope and integrated science instrument module (OTIS) of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, is unloaded from a U.S. military C-5 Charlie aircraft at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Feb. 2, 2018.
Credits: NASA/Chris Gunn
In preparation for leaving Johnson, OTIS was placed inside a specially designed shipping container called the Space Telescope Transporter for Air, Road and Sea (STTARS). The container then was loaded onto a U.S. military C-5 Charlie aircraft at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, just outside of Johnson. From there, OTIS took a flight to Los Angeles International Airport. After arrival, OTIS was driven from the airport to Northrop Grumman’s Space Park facility.
The two C-5Cs are operated by U.S. Air Force crews for DOD spacecraft programs and NASA, and are stationed at Travis AFB, California. Both C-5Cs #68-0213 and #68-0216 have been modified into C-5Ms as of 2017.
27 March 2018
The James Webb Space Telescope is undergoing final integration and testing that will require more time to ensure a successful mission. Following a new assessment of the remaining tasks on the highly complex space observatory, the launch window is now targeted for about May 2020.
Maybe JWST is going to be too complex for its own good? I'm not a spacecraft engineer, but, couldn't things have been simplified?
I'm thinking like some sort of assembly in orbit with multiple launches? Surely it could be even bigger and cheaper than the 10 billion it's already cost?
https://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/nasa-webb-telescope-2021The space telescope, which will unfold a tennis court–sized observation mirror a million miles from Earth, was intended to launch in 2013.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the space agency’s long-delayed and over-budget jumbo space observatory, won’t launch until March 30, 2021, NASA’s administrator announced on Wednesday.
So that means a 20% chance it will be delayed to 2022... :uhh:there is an 80% chance that the spacecraft will actually launch in 2021