Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA, has said the agency is delaying the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) initially slated for March 2021, Space News reported Wednesday.
Zurbuchen told attendees at an online meeting hosted by the National Academies’ Space Studies Board that the launch is “not in the cards right now” following operational delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASA and Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for the James Webb effort, began closing their facilities in March in response to the pandemic. NASA previously announced a test for the telescope’s deployable tower assembly and is slated to conduct another assessment in July.
Zurbuchen noted that NASA needs to “calibrate that through a schedule" and that he is “very optimistic” of launch activities taking place as planned.