The Atlantic

Another Shocking Delay for NASA’s Next Big Telescope

If the James Webb Space Telescope wants to get off the ground, it will need a blessing—and more money—from Congress.
Source: Chris Gunn / NASA

In February, a watchdog government agency warned NASA that its next big space telescope was dangerously close to running over schedule and over budget. Most of the James Webb Space Telescope, such as its gold-plated mirrors and scientific instruments, were ready. But there were too many problems with other elements of the spacecraft—specifically, the parts that NASA had hired an outside contractor to build.

“It hasn’t been good,” Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, recently told me about the work of the contractor, Northrop Grumman. “They know that. NASA knows that. But we’re gonna get it worked out.”

NASA has already invested 20 years and billions of dollars in this project. This telescope is going to space. But it’s going to take a lot longer to get there than anyone expected.

N on Wednesday the third delay in nine months in the telescope’s launch date. The space officials were still hoping for a fall 2018 launch.

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