NASA Eyes March 2021 Launch for Webb Telescope

NASA has set March 30, 2021, as the new launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope after the independent review board released its findings and recommendations for the program.

NASA said Thursday IRB recommended that development work on the Webb telescope should continue and that the revised launch date seeks to accommodate schedule changes in light of work and environmental testing challenges that Northrop Grumman experienced with the observatory’s propulsion system and sunshield.

The new launch date brings the telescope’s total lifecycle cost estimate to $9.66 billion and development cost estimate to $8.8 billion.

“Despite major challenges, the board and NASA unanimously agree that Webb will achieve mission success with the implementation of the board’s recommendations, many of which already are underway,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

Some of the board’s recommendations include the designation of a commission manager; implementation of sunshield hardware and simulation elements; and the need for Northrop to establish corrective actions in training, processes, personnel certification and other areas.

NASA will use Arianespace’s Ariane 5 rocket to launch the telescope that will work to examine the solar system and address questions about cosmic origins.

NASA works with the European Space Agency and Canada’ space agency on the Webb telescope project.

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