NASA has confirmed December 24, 2021 as the launch date for the delayed James Webb telescope, the world’s largest and most powerful space telescope.
The launch date was confirmed on December 18, 2021, after the telescope was successfully encapsulated inside the Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space.
“Webb’s final launch readiness review will be held on Tuesday Dec. 21 and, if successful, roll-out is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22,” NASA said in a statement.
Encapsulation in its rocket nosecone complete, @NASAWebb is set to launch Dec. 24 from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.— NASA (@NASA) December 18, 2021
Here are the next steps for the world’s most powerful telescope on its way to #UnfoldTheUniverse: https://t.co/OmDRvvXDrb
: ©ESA-Manuel Pedoussaut pic.twitter.com/LeYn9eJAwh
The launch had been planned for December 18, 2021, but NASA in November delayed it to “no earlier” than December 22, after an incident during launch preparations. It was then delayed further to no earlier than December 24 due to a “communication issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system.”
This is not the first time the project, the successor to the Hubble space telescope, has been delayed. It had also been due to launch during 2020 but those plans were derailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The exact time of the launch is targeted for 07:20 EST Friday, Dec. 24, from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
NASA says the Webb mission, an international partnership with the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, will explore every phase of cosmic history, helping humanity to understand the origins of the universe.