The Government Accountability Office has stated that the risk of another delay is quite high in the case of the scheduled James Webb Space Telescope launch, which should take place on March 2021.
It seems that the highly expensive project could be affected by a series of new technical challenges that may not be solved before the deadline will be reached. The international project has been delayed several times, missing the original launch timeline by more than six years since the first schedule was elaborated in 2009.
NASA published the current schedule after an independent audit took place in 2018. Within a review, the experts stated that the mission would be ready for launch by March 2021. Northrop Grumman, a principal contractor, has already assembled the spacecraft and module segments of the telescope in August 2019, forming the complete array.
The James Webb Space Telescope Launch Could Be Delayed
It seems that new challenges have surfaced, and more time may be needed to tackle potential issues or risks. It is also essential to highlight the fact that the current launch date was selected as an alternative since project managers hoped that the project could be ready for launch by November 2020, an internal target that has already been abandoned.
It is now estimated that the confidence level to launch the telescope in time is around 12%, while regular launch dates are set with a 70% confidence level. After the telescope was assembled, engineers from Northrop Grumman decided to run a series of tests to verify several aspects of the sophisticated spacecraft.
The James Webb Space Telescope has been designed as a bleeding age observatory, sporting an impressive primary mirror with a width of 21.3 feet (or 6.5 meters) made out of beryllium a coated in gold. It also carries several advanced infrared tools that will offer the ability to see how the universe looked 13.5 billion years ago.