back to article Confirmed: James Webb Space Telescope team plans launch for this Xmas Eve after data cable fix

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been confirmed for December 24* after engineers investigated and fixed up a communications problem on board the booster and spacecraft combo. During a briefing on Thursday, ESA and NASA representatives – including the US space agency's Science Mission Directorate …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Wait for the reports that the launch was aborted to avoid a collision with several reindeer and a sleigh.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Scott Manley already burst that bubble. He said that the JWT launching on schedule is just a pretty story we tell to children so in reality there is no chance of a collision with Santa.

  2. HildyJ Silver badge
    Joke

    They should have asked me

    I'm a PC pack rat. I've got cables dating back at least to Parallel Printer Ribbons and SCSI-1 connectors.

    Since Boeing wasn't involved, I'll blame the French.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They should have asked me

      Don't joke, much of the tech involved in this telescope was designed when parallel printer ports and serial cable ports were a thing. It's been decades in the making, with delay upon delay.

  3. Alistair
    Windows

    Considering the state of things around the world coming up to crimble

    A crimble eve launch would be (likely) over subscribed on the connected watchers count almost as badly as FFXIV is these days.

    With my mom in hospital at the moment, such news would certainly perk her up, and she might even decide to get some sort of connection on which to watch said launch. (No, not covid, and likely something cardiac related but we aren't sure yet).

    1. Grunchy Bronze badge

      Re: Considering the state of things around the world coming up to crimble

      Best wishes to your Mum!

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Considering the state of things around the world coming up to crimble

      likely something cardiac related

      As long as a cleaner doesn't come and disconnect a vital plug to connect up a vacuum cleaner

  4. msobkow Silver badge

    I sure hope the launch and deployment go smoothly. We don't need another "warped mirror" like with Hubble, much less any worse problems...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I should think that, with all the testing and checking and re-testing that has been done, there will be no problem with the mirror.

      And if there is, well we can all write one telescope off the charts because there will be no servicing this bird.

      Unlike software companies these days, this one has to go out the gate 100% functional. There will be no patches to the hardware.

      Fingers crossed !

      (and legs, and toes)

      1. DomDF

        Hopefully no crossed wires

      2. theModge

        Having listened to a description of the mirror: so huge it has to go up folded into segments, then unfurl it self in space, I can understand why very extensive testing was necessary. It seems the sunshade is just as complex, it's apparently tennis court sized when it's deployed! No way to imagine that's going to be a simple bit of engineering.

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Happy

          The unfolding has actually never been fully tested as it has never been tested in zero gravity.

          Aaaah stop it Lars.

          1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            If they had actually dropped it, they could have tested the unfolding on the way down. Then build another one either the same or better, depending on whether it worked or not.

            This test procedure brought to you by Calvin's Dad.

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      It will be very, very sad but also very, very funny if it blows up on launch.

      1. TheProf
        Headmaster

        What?

        Johnston! Stand in the corner and contemplate on your comments.

        When you're ready to apologise to the class you can re-join the human race.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: What?

          I did say it would be sad as well. The humour would be the horrified and fascinated sort you get when you see a horrible accident unfolding without anyone actually getting hurt. Basically every "Fail compilation" video on YouTube.

          It's fourteen years late, twenty times over budget and built by people who, it seems, can't wire a test cable up correctly. I am sure it will be fine.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: What?

            I understood your comment and upvoted it, despite all the Grinches downvoting you :-)

          2. EnviableOne Silver badge

            Re: What?

            You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?

      2. m4r35n357

        I assume you are using gallows humour here. Unfortunately there are too many literal readers around these days, as one astronomer has found . . . https://twitter.com/CatieSlaughts/status/1471092919654359040?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

        (link from main article)

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Indeed. Meanwhile, does anyone else think that the heat shield looks like a giant Dairylea triangle?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            You mean triangular,?

  5. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    So we all need to watch for a star in the east bringing good news?

  6. Lazlo Woodbine Silver badge

    Will be get to watch the launch on NORAD's Santa Tracker feed?

    https://www.noradsanta.org/

  7. m4r35n357

    One collossal egg

    in one huge explosive basket. God I hope this thing gets up safely!!!!

  8. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

    All I want for Christmas...

    is the JWST.

  9. Binraider Silver badge

    The way some articles read around JWST one would almost think the £ cost associated with this unmanned launch is a more terrifying than the prospect of sitting 4 humans atop a firework.

    In the worst case, given that the design is now established; how much of a delay would producing a new satellite to the same specifications entail?

    A lot of the £ cost tied up in JWST is simply a function of employing people for so long, not necessarily in actual capex on equipment...

    1. Lusty

      From what I read elsewhere, about 10-20 years. The time it's taken to launch is partly because they have to assemble a lot of new stuff in a certain order and test every single thing as it's added. Building a new one, therefore, woudln't necessarily be any faster than building this one, they'd just skip the 10 years of innovation at the start. I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was already at least a couple of spares as it would not have added significant cost to make three rather than one, and would give a little bit of backup

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Like "The Machine" in "Contact".

        1. ravenviz Silver badge

          The first rule of government spending

          Why have one when you can have two at twice the price?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: The first rule of government spending

            Ironically a copy could cost much more.

            This thing was built by a bunch of defense contractors over a decade, in plants that may have been shut down, by people who have left/retired, with components that are no longer made, with subcontractors that have gone out of business/been sold.

            If you want to make an equivalent telescope, it's not too hard. If you want to make a precise copy, where you use this particular memory module from 1999 because it passed radiation tests and this type of kapton tape from this supplier is good for 10 years in vacuum - then it gets really hard.

            It's why military aircraft projects tend to be very expensive, you build an order of x000 airframes and all the spares they are going to need for 30-40 years, because starting up a line to make a replacement PCB for 1980s fighter is $$$$$$

            One colleague of mine was trying to get samples some particular astronomical emulsion - which Kodak stopped making because it contained Buffalo gelatin which was banned by BSE regulations. The Keck telescope, built in the 90s, has an entire team building replacements for 80/90s era control hardware.

            1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

              Re: The first rule of government spending

              Ironically a copy could cost much more.

              This thing was built by a bunch of defense contractors over a decade, in plants that may have been shut down, by people who have left/retired, with components that are no longer made, with subcontractors that have gone out of business/been sold.

              That was basically why the Shuttle was retired - they ran out of spare parts and couldn't afford to make new bits.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      In the worst case, given that the design is now established; how much of a delay would producing a new satellite to the same specifications entail?

      Would they duplicate the exact design? Or would they improve just things like wiring harnesses and other equipment?

      Answer those two and you'll have your answer. Since it's a government program I would expect increased costs and more time needed.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "a function of employing people for so long, not necessarily in actual capex on equipment."

      When you spend actual capex on equipment how do you think that actual capex is actually used?

      Some on vendor's shareholders' dividends and some on vendor's execs' bonuses for sure, but a lot will go on employing people to make the stuff, some on the vendor's actual capex to buy the equipment used by the employees (see how actual capex is used), some to buy services and some to buy materials. The money spent buying services and materials will be used by the vendors in ways remarkably similar to that used by the vendors of whatever was bought as actual capex.

      TL;DR Whatever the accountants' heading, buying stuff means people are employed to provide it.

  10. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Dec 24 - A James Burke moment

    James Burke was famously chastised for crossing his fingers during the moon landing. I don't care, mine will be firmly crossed for the launch and I hope the unfurling and initialisation goes to plan. JWST is not just a satellite, NASA's future credibility (in the eyes of the beancounters) relies totally on this working to spec ...

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Dec 24 - A James Burke moment

      And fingers crossed "James Burke'sCable Connections" stay, connected during launch

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    amazing Birthday present, thanks EU tax payers!!

    i'm deeply privileged and moved that they decide to honour my birthday by sending up a huge candle with an amazing telescope.

    It'll beat the hell out of the telescope i got last year & i'll be able to view the pics without standing outside in the freezing cold!!

    just wish i could be in Guiana to watch the launch live, maybe next year

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: amazing Birthday present, thanks EU tax payers!!

      "maybe next year" == Sondheim lyrics

      Be nice. :)

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: amazing Birthday present, thanks EU tax payers!!

        Let's hope clowns are not involved in the launch.

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

  13. TheGriz

    Spoiled Non-Techies

    Personally, I'm thinking most of the "non-technical" world population are going to be in for a shock, when the first pictures come back from JWST. Hubble has spoiled the masses with spectacular full COLOR photos of distant galaxies, nebula's, etc, etc. Since JWST is an INFRA-RED telescope, the general public might be quite under-whelmed by what they are shown.

    As for myself, I can't wait to see the first JWST "Deep Field View", no telling what will show up, but it'll be spectacular, and jaw dropping most likely.

    God's Speed JWST, a successful deployment will push our knowledge and understanding of the Universe itself spectacularly past our current knowledge base.

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