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NASA has determined a new launch date for James Webb Telescope; March 30, 2021. The agency previously had estimated an earlier launch date.
“Webb should continue based on its extraordinary scientific potential and critical role in maintaining U.S. leadership in astronomy and astrophysics,” said Tom Young, the chair of the review board. “Ensuring every element of Webb functions properly before it gets to space is critical to its success.”
The board also reaffirmed Webb’s significant complexity, incredible scientific potential, and importance to astrophysics.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sent a message to the NASA workforce Wednesday about the report. “Webb is vital to the next generation of research beyond NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. It’s going to do amazing things – things we’ve never been able to do before – as we peer into other galaxies and see light from the very dawn of time,” said Administrator Bridenstine. “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.”
“The more we learn more about our universe, the more we realize that Webb is critical to answering questions we didn’t even know how to ask when the spacecraft was first designed,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Webb is poised to answer those questions, and is worth the wait. The valuable recommendations of the IRB support our efforts towards mission success; we expect spectacular scientific advances from NASA’s highest science priority.”
The James Webb telescope’s new total lifecycle cost is estimated at $9.66 billion; its new development cost estimate is $8.8 billion. From detecting the light of the first stars and galaxies in the distant universe, Webb’s world-class science not only will shed light on the many mysteries of the universe, it also will further enhance the discoveries of other astrophysics projects. Webb’s primary mirror will span more than 21 feet (6.5 meters) and its sunshield will be about the size of a tennis court.
Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
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