Further Delays Plague Launch of NASA Mega Telescope
Despite being billed as “the highest priority project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the largest international space science project in US history” by former Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been pushed back once again. Now scheduled to launch in May 2020, the completed telescope will weigh at least 6,000 kg and its primary mirror will have a diameter of over 6 m. To contextualize, the diameter of Hubble’s primary mirror is 2.4 m. Despite being widely anticipated, the project has garnered plenty of criticism for exceeding its original budget estimations of between USD 1 billion and USD 3.5 billion. Since development began over 20 years ago, at least USD 7.3 billion has been spent on the project, and this sum is expected to reach USD 9 billion. Once launched, it is believed the telescope will travel over 1.5 million km beyond Earth and will have the capability to “peer into the atmosphere of planets outside our solar system … and gather and reflect light from the early Universe”, making its successful development a truly phenomenal feat.