The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which astronomers say will usher in a new era of discovery, has been postponed from 13 to 22 in December after an “incident” on the platform in French Guiana, NASA reported on Monday (13).
Technicians were preparing to attach the James Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, used to insert the US$ 10 billion telescope into the top of an Ariane 5 rocket.
“A sudden unexpected detachment of a fastening ring, which secures the Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, caused a vibration through the observatory”, explained the American space agency, noting that the incident occurred while operations were being carried out “under the general responsibility of Arianespace”.
Arianespace is a French company, contracted for the launch of the telescope.
A NASA investigation aims to determine how it occurred and healthy tests the ones performed to “determine with certainty that the incident did not damage any components”.
The telescope will orbit around the Sun, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, far beyond the limits from its older brother, Hubble, which operates at 100 km altitude from 1990.
Scientists want to use the The James Webb telescope, the largest and most powerful ever built, to look back in time over 13,5 billion years and see the first stars and galaxies formed, 100 million years after the Big Bang.
Touted as the successor to Hubble, the JWST was built in the United States, under NASA’s direction, and incorporates instruments from the space agencies of Europe (ESA) and Canada (CSA).
One of its main characteristics is its ability to detect the infrared, because when the light of the first objects reaches ours telescopes, has shifted to the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum as a result. of the expansion of the universe.