The James Webb telescope has a new malfunction. Sending to space postponed
NASA got into trouble with the James Webb telescope. Earlier, one of the problems was reported at Geektimes , now another has been discovered , which is likely to delay the launch of the system into space for an indefinite time. The project itself began to be implemented a long time ago. The first design elements were prepared in 1996. At about the same time, NASA announced that the launch of one of the most advanced space telescopes is planned for 2007. The project cost totaled about $ 500 million.
But then, after the 96th, deferrals began. The agency recently said that the telescope will fly into space no earlier than in 2020, in May. Moreover, NASA has no guarantee that the US Congress will continue to allocate money for the project. The budget has increased many times, now it is $ 8 billion - that’s how much the government has allocated for the creation, testing and launch of the telescope into space.
James Webb’s team has now begun a series of troubles that has delayed the launch of the system. But the delay means additional costs, and NASA just cannot afford it, since the organization is unlikely to receive more than the allocated $ 8 billion. The only option to complete the project successfully is to solve all the problems that have arisen and still send Webb to cold black. The problem is that if problems arise, the telescope cannot be repaired - it will be located far from the Earth.
The telescope team has only one chance to successfully launch the system, this chance must be used 100%, there will be no more opportunities. “Now we have problems that need to be resolved before we cross the finish line,” said a NASA spokesman.
Actually, all hardware systems are ready and assembled. The telescope is not yet a single whole, it is divided into two parts, which will be connected by specialists before being sent to space. One of the two parts is the mirror system. Each mirror was prepared separately, then tested, and then connected to others. The second part of the telescope is a spacecraft and power plants, including a solar shield, which protects the system’s cameras from sunlight.
Most of the problems happened already on the way to the finish line when NASA contractor Northrop Grumman began testing the telescope at its facility in California. Now it became known about additional problems of the telescope, although only one was previously announced - problem valves in the system of engines of the device, which are responsible for putting the system into orbit and for ensuring that the solar shield is always in the correct position.
The shield at startup is folded in five layers. In order for the telescope to work, the shield needs to turn around. NASA and Northrop Grumman have a plan to eliminate problematic valves and replace them with working ones. But this will take whole weeks, if not months, so the telescope's launch date will have to be postponed.
And the problem is that the agency spent about $ 7.3 billion out of $ 8 allocated by Congress. In the summer, NASA will meet to prepare a new application for funds, as well as to explain to Washington the causes of errors that led to the loss of several satellites. While the telescope was doing well, the state paid him quite a lot of attention. Now there are obvious problems, so if the budget increases to $ 8 billion, Congress will have to approve the project again.
Many scientists believe that this will be so, although NASA has doubts about this. Perhaps quite fair, because Lamar Smith, a spokesman for the US government, said the following: “Today's announcement of a problem with James Webb involves moving the telescope off. It also means that the size of the budget allocated to the telescope leaves 8 billion.
Whatever the case, the government has already announced that they will adhere to the promises given to taxpayers. If 8bn is spent, and the reaction does not follow or the telescope cannot work, the project will be declared unsuccessful, and the money will most likely cease to be allocated.
Be that as it may, NASA hopes to speed up the process of testing both the system itself and its parts. To do this, the agency is constantly in touch with Northrop Grumman. Employees of the latter are trying to solve the problem in order to save both face and funding. In general, what will happen to the telescope and when it will be launched into space is still unknown.