back to article James Webb Space Telescope may actually truly launch this century, says NASA

The very-much-delayed James Webb Space Telescope is being pumped with fuel and prepared for liftoff after an anomaly knocked back its launch date to no earlier than December 22. “Engineering teams have completed additional testing confirming NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is ready for flight, and launch preparations are …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Not sure why it takes 10 days to put in 63 gallons of fuel and oxidizer, but hey, this is JWST.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      They've got one try to get it right. Let them take as long as they deem necessary.

      Go, albeit slowly, boffins.

    2. Lars Silver badge

      And you are somebody who doesn't know a thing about it, oh please 63 gallons.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Out of curiosity, how much fuel do the thrusters take?

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          And can it not be refuelled in position? Doesn't sound like a particularly hard robotic spacecraft job, by current standards.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            In a word, "no"

            In a few more words, "it's a lot harder than you seem to think it is" - and more to the point, the fuel (incredibly toxic to people+dangerous in other ways) needs to be loaded into something that's going to be launched on the pointy end of a firestick at some point.

            Doing so in a way which requires even more handling later, with even more complications and therefore possibilities of something going wrong - is generally a bad idea from the outset

            Any question that that starts "why can't they just" or "it doesn't seem particularly hard" usually turns out on analysis to be VERY difficult to achieve

      2. Lazlo Woodbine

        It holds 240 litres, whish is a little over 63 US gallons and just short of 53 real gallons

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "a little over 63 US gallons and just short of 53 real gallons"

          LOL, thanks for that :-)

        2. adam 40 Silver badge

          Good job this is ESA

          Well it would be another way for NASA to fuck it up, litres, liters, gallons, US gallons...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Is there some reason to rush, if it doesn't launch for at least three weeks?

    5. Spherical Cow Silver badge

      Not sure what these "gallons" thingies you mention are. NASA, ESA, CSA all use metric. The JWST will carry 240 litres of hydrazine fuel and dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        Neither hydrazine fuel or dinitrogen tetraoxide play nice with the human body, hence why they are taking their time and doing it right.

    6. the small snake

      If you make a mistake fuelling your car then perhaps it catches fire and if you have expensive car maybe this costs you $100,000. If you make a mistake fuelling JWST then perhaps it catches fire and this costs you $10,000,000,000. Enough to buy 100,000 new expensive cars. So you do it rather carefully.

      Also both fuel and oxidiser are very toxic and corrosive and very very nasty. And if they come into contact with each other they will explode. So you do it rather carefully.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        And yet developing your car cost many billions. Same with the telescope: building number 2 would cost a few orders of magnitude less than designing and building #1. See also: "The Machine" in "Contact".

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          In this instance, possibly the best thing which could happen to the JWST would be to park it and build another one which doesn't need the complex orgami

          It was built around a 3 metre fairing. Starship makes this redundant. It also makes a lot of the other orgami redundant. Ion tugs make travel to and from Lagrange points actually possible.

          None of this existed 25 years ago, but the problem is that people keep piling on complexity onto a sunk cost instead of starting over

        2. the small snake

          Indeed. A second JWST might cost a billion or perhaps even less (probably not less though). Would still suggest being cautious fuelling it, do you not think?

        3. Timbo Bronze badge

          "Same with the telescope: building number 2 would cost a few orders of magnitude less than designing and building #1. See also: "The Machine" in "Contact"."

          I seem to recall in the film Contact, that Hadden said: "1st rule in government spending - why build one when you can have two at twice the price".

      2. D@v3

        yeah, but it's hardly rocket science, is it.....

        1. Terje

          No, rocket science is easy! Rocket engineering on the other hand, that is hard...

  2. sebacoustic
    Thumb Up

    Love it

    James Webb Space Telescope. It warms my heart that space technology is _sometimes_ used for the benefit of humanity, rather than as yet another hi tech weapon, space junk comms sattelite network, or a zero-gravity penis for billionaires.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: Love it

      Guess you missed the inclusion of the x ray laser capable of targeting anywhere on Earth that was demanded by the DoD at the last minute in order to get Congress to approve the spending.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The launch was initially planned for 2007. Being 14 years late, a few days more don't matter, take your time guys, better be careful and don't screw it.

  4. bigphil9009

    Scott Manley had a great line in one of his recent videos when discussing this matter and addressing the chances of the launch impacting Santa's ability to delivery presents at the right time:

    "Don't worry, the James Webb telescope launching on time is just a story we tell our children at Christmas"

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