Three full decades after the Hubble Space Telescope launched, its successor remains in launch limbo as a NASA executive says its James Webb Space Telescope will be delayed once again.
JWST has been under development in some form since 1989 and at one point a launch was planned for 2007. That date has been pushed back over a dozen times and now the launch date officially stands at March 2021. However, SpaceNews reports Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, told science leaders Wednesday that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause the launch date to slip yet again.
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"We will not launch in March," Zurbuchen told a meeting of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Space Studies Board. "That is not in the cards right now… It's not anyone's fault or mismanagement."
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Zurbuchen said that the pandemic and the resulting shutdowns made it impossible to keep all of the shifts working on the telescope fully staffed and time has been lost as a result.
NASA and Northrop Grumman, the primary contractor behind building JWST, are reviewing the schedule and hope to set a new launch date by the end of July.
Zurbuchen said he's still hopeful a launch can happen at some point in 2021.
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