CAPE CAÑAVERAL, Florida, USA (AP) – NASA plans to launch its new Webb space telescope next Friday.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson confirmed that the plan is for the James Webb Space Telescope to lift off on Christmas Eve. An Ariane rocket from the European Space Agency will carry it into space from French Guiana.
The $ 10 billion telescope – considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – was to be launched on Saturday, but was shaken during preparations, resulting in a four-day delay. Then a problem with the communications link on the rocket had to be repaired, forcing the launch to be postponed for another two days.
European and US space officials approved the launch on Friday, following a new round of testing.
Nelson expects a smaller crowd at the launch site due to the holidays. The launch was scheduled for 7:20 EST (1120 GMT).
“Considering it’s Christmas Eve, all the congressional delegations that were going to go, all of that just evaporated,” he told The Associated Press. Even the NASA team and contractor team have been scaled down, he said. But he will be there.
Delayed already several years, the Webb will look almost to the beginning of the time, when the first stars and galaxies formed. NASA is collaborating with the European and Canadian space agencies on the huge project.