NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch date moves to December

Liftoff from French Guiana shifts from October to December

In this 2017 photo made available by NASA, technicians lift the mirror assembly of the James Webb Space Telescope using a crane inside a clean room at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. On Thursday, July 16, 2020, officials announced that the telescope is now scheduled to launch on Oct. 31, 2021. The previous target date was March 2021. (Desiree Stover/NASA via AP) (Uncredited)

The most powerful space telescope yet will wait a few more months before leaving Earth, NASA announced Wednesday.

The launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope from the European spaceport in French Guiana was scheduled for October but NASA is now targeting Dec. 18, the agency said in a news release.

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The change of date comes as the launch provider, Arianespace, recently conducted a successful Ariane 5 rocket launch in July, the first since August 2020.

Currently, the telescope with its golden 6.5-meter wide mirror remains at Northrop’s facility in California undergoing final preparations before it is shipped to the launch site.

“Webb is an exemplary mission that signifies the epitome of perseverance,” NASA Webb Program Director Gregory L. Robinson said in a statement. “I am inspired by our dedicated team and our global partnerships that have made this incredible endeavor possible. Together, we’ve overcome technical obstacles along the way as well as challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. I also am grateful for the steadfast support of Congress. Now that we have an observatory and a rocket ready for launch, I am looking forward to the big day and the amazing science to come.”

Scientists from 44 countries and 45 states in the U.S. have been selected to utilize the infrared telescope to study worlds unknown and potentially re-write text books with what we know about the universe.

Observations are expected to begin with James Webb in early 2022.