High winds postpone launch of NASA’s newest space telescope | Scientific news


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By MARCIA DUNN, Editor AP Aerospace

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Dangerous winds will keep NASA’s last space telescope on the ground for at least an additional day, with launch now scheduled for Saturday – Christmas Day – at the earliest.

NASA announced the latest delay on Tuesday. Strong upper-level winds could force a rocket to deviate from its path or even damage or destroy it.

The James Webb Space Telescope will take off from French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America, aboard a European Ariane rocket. Launch directors will meet again on Wednesday to assess the weather.

The $ 10 billion infrared observatory is believed to be the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been in orbit since 1990.

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At a press conference on Tuesday, NASA officials said the rocket and telescope were in good condition and that the only persistent problem, while tolerable, was an intermittent relay of communication between the two. The earlier issue forced a two-day deadline; a clamp that inadvertently rocked the telescope at the launch site had caused a four-day slip.

These last-minute problems come after years of delays and cost overruns for Webb, the largest and most powerful science observatory ever built for space.

NASA is working in partnership with European and Canadian space agencies on the project.

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