NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launch: Live updates
It’s Launch Week for James Webb Space Telescope
(Image credit: ESA)
It’s launch week for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope and as the days count down to its Christmas Eve launch on Dec. 24, we’re taking a look at the science promised by the huge new space observatory.
Space.com senior writer Chelsea Gohd takes a look at the fundamental differences between the iconic Hubble Space Telescope, which can capture images in visible light, and the James Webb Space Telescope, which is solely an infrared observatory, but one so sensitive it’s designed to peer back closer to the birth of the universe than ever before.
Dec. 24 launch date confirmed for Webb space telescope
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is seen during payload fairing encapsulation ahead of its installation atop its Ariane 5 rocket for a Dec. 24, 2021 launch from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. (Image credit: ESA-M.Pedoussaut)
NASA and its partners officially confirmed Dec. 24 as the launch target for the new James Webb Space Telescope. Liftoff is set for 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
NASA confirmed the launch target today in a blog post, stating that the Webb space telescope is packed inside its nosecone and attached to its Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket.
“The James Webb Space Telescope is confirmed for the target launch date of Dec. 24, at 7:20 a.m. EST,” NASA wrote. “Late yesterday, teams at the launch site successfully completed encapsulation of the observatory inside the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space. Webb’s launch final readiness review will be held on Tuesday Dec. 21 and, if successful, roll-out is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22.”
Launch date confirmation coming Saturday
The James Webb Space Telescope is still tentatively scheduled to launch on Dec. 24, but the launch date won’t be officially confirmed until tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 18), according to Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël.
“Final encapsulation operations ongoing,” Israël tweeted late Friday. “Target launch date is December 24 at 12:20 am UTC. Confirmation Saturday.”
Final encapsulation operations ongoing. Need a few more hours to complete them. Target launch date is December 24 at 12:20 am UTC. Confirmation Saturday. Go @NASAWebb/@ESA_Webb! Go #Ariane5! Go! 🎅🚀#WebbFliesAriane #VA256 pic.twitter.com/15wvWpaD3RDecember 17, 2021
NASA, ESA discussing Webb space telescope launch date
NASA and the European Space Agency are discussing their options today (Dec. 17) on when to launch the multibillion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope.
Earlier this week, the two agencies and their partners delayed the Webb telescope’s Dec. 22 launch after a data cable issue prevented communications between the observatory and equipment with its Ariane 5 rocket. The launch is currently targeted for no earlier than Dec. 24, but that launch date could change.
NASA and ESA have both said they will announce a firmer launch date by then end of the day today, Dec. 17. The faulty data cable on Webb was fixed yesterday afternoon and engineers were expected to perform final tests before making a decision on whether to close up the space telescope inside its clamshell-like payload fairing.
The Webb space telescope is NASA’s next “Great Observatory” and set to launch on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket from Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
The mission has been delayed several times in recent months, from an October launch target to late December due to launch preparation issues.
Data cable fixed on James Webb Space Telescope
Just in from the Webb launch site: The team has fixed the connection issue and @NASAWebb is in the midst of its final scheduled aliveness test before launch. We’ll provide an additional update on the status of encapsulation and the launch date tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/ehFVzfeeCIDecember 16, 2021
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science missions, announced on Twitter today that the launch team for the agency’s James Webb Space Telescope has fixed the data cable connection issue that has delayed the space observatory’s launch. A new launch date will be announced on Friday, Dec. 18.
“Just in from the Webb launch site: The team has fixed the connection issue and @NASAWebb is in the midst of its final scheduled aliveness test before launch,” Zurbuchen wrote on Twitter. “We’ll provide an additional update on the status of encapsulation and the launch date tomorrow.”
The Webb Space Telescope is currently targeted to launch no earlier than Dec. 24, two days later than planned due to the data cable issue.
Faulty cable caused JWST launch delay
A faulty communications cable is responsible for the James Webb Space Telescope’s latest delay, according to the European Space Agency.
In a press conference today (Dec. 16), ESA officials said a faulty data designed to deliver data from the Webb space telescope and its rocket and launch pad equipment was not working properly.
“It’s an interface issue in the electrical network connecting the observatory and the ground support equipment,” Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA director of space transportation, said in the briefing. “It’s a cable located in the launch table, which is experiencing some intermittent losses of data.”
JWST packed for flight
(Image credit: ESA-M.Pedoussaut)
On Saturday, Dec. 11, Arianespace packed NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for launch, installing the space telescope atop its Ariane 5 rocket for a planned launch from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
The actual launch date for the Webb space telescope is still uncertain, as NASA and Arianespace have delayed its launch (initially set for Dec. 22) to no earlier than Dec. 24. An update on launch plans for Webb is expected by Friday, Dec. 17, according to NASA.
NASA and Arianespace originally aimed to launch the Webb space telescope on Oct. 31 and have delayed it repeatedly due to integration and other issues. Watch this space for updates on a new firm launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope.
JWST launch delayed to Dec. 24
(Image credit: M.Pedoussaut/ESA)
The James Webb Space Telescope is now scheduled to launch no earlier than Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), NASA announced today.
“The James Webb Space Telescope team is working a communication issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system,” NASA officials said in a statement. “This will delay the launch date to no earlier than Friday, Dec. 24. We will provide more information about the new launch date no later than Friday, Dec. 17.”
James Webb Space Telescope ready to launch
After years of development and billions of dollars, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is nearly ready to launch.
Follow JWST’s last days on Earth and its future as a new Great Observatory for NASA, the European Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency and the world in our live coverage here.