The launch of the $10bn (£7.5bn) James Webb space telescope has been delayed again by NASA. Technicians were preparing to attach spacecraft to launch vehicle at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana when unplanned event took place. In fact, “a sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band” occurred. The clamp band fixes the spacecraft to the launch adaptor and then releases in orbit, allowing the spacecraft to separate from the rocket. NASA has convened an anomaly board to investigate and perform additional tests on the spacecraft to ensure nothing has been damaged. The space agency assembled a review board to fully investigate the matter. After, launch preparations will resume but for 22 December. Engineering teams have already completed additional testing of the telescope, this week, noting there was no damage sustained as a result of the clamp incident. Fueling operations will begin on Thursday, November 25, and take about 10 days to complete.
The Webb Space Telescope is an international partnership with the European and Canadian space agencies. Once in space, it should take roughly 30 days for the telescope to reach its target. It will run through a series of tests to calibrate its mirrors. Webb will reveal new and unexpected discoveries, and help humanity understand the origins of the universe and our place in it.