NASA said on November 22 that the deployment of the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) will be delayed by at least four days due to an event that occurred while the spacecraft was being prepared for flight in French Guiana. NASA said that, in collaboration with Arianespace and the European Space Agency, the deployment of JWST on an Ariane 5 has been postponed from December 18 to no sooner than December 22 to allow for extra testing of the spacecraft following the mishap.
A “sudden, unanticipated release of a clamp band” that holds JWST to the launch vehicle adapter “generated a vibration across the observatory,” as per the NASA statement. Arianespace was in charge of those activities, according to the statement. Other than the previous few days, it’s not apparent when the incident occurred. During a pair of November 18 briefings on the science and equipment of JWST, NASA officials made no mention of it, claiming that the project was still on track for a December 18 launch.
When questioned about the event during a November 22 media briefing about the impending release of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, Thomas Zurbuchen, who works as the NASA associate administrator in charge of science, said, “Of course, when you are working on a telescope valued at $10 billion, conservatism is usually the order of the day.”
He explained that because JWST is so near to launch, it lacks sensors that were installed before it was transferred to French Guiana to monitor the impact of clamp release on the spaceship, leaving only computations to estimate the force applied. “After these computations, we went back to a tiny number of subsystems and merely did the functional testing to ensure that, with all of which conservatism, nothing happened.”
“Doing these tests right now is really the appropriate thing to do,” he said, “to ensure everything is as prepared as we hope it is.” “I’m hoping that we’ll be in terrific shape in a few days here.”
The JWST, the largest and most sophisticated ever built, will be used to peer back more than 13.5 billion years to view the earliest stars and galaxies which formed a couple of hundred million years. Because the light from the very first objects has migrated toward the electromagnetic spectrum’s red end by the time it reaches our telescopes as a consequence of the universe’s expansion, one of its most important features is its capability to detect infrared.