back to article James Webb Telescope launch delayed again, this time by weather

The James Webb Telescope has been cleared for launch, only for weather to delay its ascent for at least a day. Work on the ‘scope commenced in 1996, ahead of a planned 2007 launch. The instrument’s journey to the launchpad has been long and hard: in 2005 it was redesigned to control cost overruns, construction occupied another …

  1. msobkow Silver badge

    I'd rather delays than failures. Fingers crossed for this auspicious event! :)

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Go

      The Ariane and JWST are now on the pad.

      As of now (6pm EST) both the local weather and the space weather are go for a launch at 7:20 a.m. EST (12:20 UTC) with a window of 31 minutes

      1. adam 40 Silver badge

        Yes but on the 25th.... nothing to see yet.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge
          Go

          A little bit to see:

          https://blogs.nasa.gov/webb/wp-content/uploads/sites/326/2021/12/Webb-on-launch-pad-51770400554_e8d47d1a5a_o-768x999.jpeg

          BTW, don't forget the other new space telescope: the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) just successfully deployed its boom and the boffins are busy commissioning the 3 telescopes.

          I am totally geeking out.

          1. msobkow Silver badge

            The James Webb is the biggest project NASA and the international partners have done during my lifetime. I think it is more important than the Space Shuttle or even that floating tin can in orbit known as the ISS (seriously, the interior views look like large soupcans bolted together, complete with the white plastic liners. *LOL*)

            We stand to learn so much more from the JWST than we could have ever learned from a bunch of rocks collected during a brief stint on the moon. Besides, I don't really remember the moon landings; I was much too young.

            But I've watched a lot of shuttle launches, followed the ISS, and I'll definitely be up to watch this one! I was even within rumbling distance of a launch in Florida, with the glare of the exhaust lighting up the roadway. (No, I was not that close - the shuttles were just REALLY bright compared to early dawn!)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              How bright was it when the exploded on launch, or burned up on descent?

          2. msobkow Silver badge

            The launch was a completely picture-perfect textbook geek-gasm! What a perfect mission so far today! :)

          3. HildyJ Silver badge
            Pint

            Launched, attitude control working, reaction wheels working, solar array deployed, ground station acquired, commands successfully sent to JWST.

            It's on its way.

            https://blogs.nasa.gov/webb/

  2. redpawn Silver badge
    Boffin

    Sometimes

    The best Christmas presents come a day or two late.

    1. Snowy Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Sometimes

      Even if it does launch today it is going to be 6 months before it starts to deliver.

      1. spireite Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: Sometimes

        So development started in 1996, launch planned 2007, happening in the arse-end of 2021.

        .... and the earliest it's start 'delivering' is mid 2022 assuming that > 300 possible failure points don't...

        The odds on this ever delivering are a bit pretty shocking then aren't they?

        And how out of date is the tech already?

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Sometimes

          Please look into things in more detail before coming up with stuff.

          Do you think for a second that development of something like this will only use technology that was present in 1996? These things are designed by real, solid engineers and designed to be as flexible and accepting of new technology as late into the process as possible. These are the kind of engineers that don't design something to fail in three years, they design something that in three years it will as far as they possibly can be sure, it will still be working. This is the difference and why Mars rovers are still trundling around while your iPhone crapped itself 30ms after the warranty expiry.

          Also consider that the imaging sensors that were put into orbit 20 years ago are so advanced and so specialised that they will put anything that you may consider current to absolute shame. Also whatever is put up now is so far ahead of what was previously up there that the difference is, well astronomical.

          Would it be good to have really easy launch and recovery technologies where rapid prototyping and even early failure is an easily recoverable option? Quite likely, however that's unlikely to happen for a long time and while things are moving that way, solid engineering that lasts is still the mainstay of sustainable and long term science.

        2. the small snake
          Boffin

          Re: Sometimes

          Despite wonder technology, diffraction-limited mirror remains diffraction-limited as laws of physics have not changed. Also sensor etc which must run at <50k still has to run at that temperature, still is limited by the mirror.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Zebo-the-Fat

    Better late than never!

  5. parlei

    https://www.windy.com/5.216/-52.774?4.592,-52.774,8 indicates less gusty wind, which to me sounds like an advantage

  6. WonkoTheSane
    Joke

    Seen on the twitters

    Just

    Wait

    Space

    Telescope

  7. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Prediction ...

    The launch scheduled for 25 Dec is further delayed when a reindeer powered sleigh strays into the launch safety zone.

    1. spireite Silver badge

      Re: Prediction ...

      Have to wonder how many late nights the staff had on the redesign too.

      No doubt powered by Donners, before Blitzen through their work. Maybe the first it will see is a Comet.

      1. Blofeld's Cat
        Pint

        Re: Prediction ...

        Excellent, have one on me.

  8. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    in 2005 it was redesigned to control cost overruns

    So far it's twenty times over budget. How bad would it have been without that redesign?

    1. Gob Smacked
      Facepalm

      So what... :)

      Many more mouths have been fed in the process as a result. Economy uses cost as a driver. Now that the economy had its share, it's time for the science

    2. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

      How bad would it have been without that redesign?

      Seeing as the redeesign was to reduce costs, perhaps the question should rather be "How much more f***king awesome would it have been without that redesign?" :-)

      .

      Although, in reality, probably a very similar degree of awesome.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >So far it's twenty times over budget. How bad would it have been without that redesign?

      About 5% of the final cost

      You hire a big defense contractor to make a complex unique project, they start a design, do research, hire subcontractors etc.

      Then the next year you halve the budget.

      The contractor writes off the previous work, hiding the sunk costs in misc additional charges to the new budget, they then start a new cheaper design from scratch.

      So far this has cost 2x the original design budget with nothing to show for it.

      Then throw in a requirement that it must use certain national champions - and throw out some partners.

      Then invite new partners to help with the budget, redesign to accommodate them.

      Repeat these steps 5x

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Please, please, please

    Launch safely.

    Please !

    Can we have a joined hands icon ?

    1. Timbo Bronze badge

      Re: Please, please, please

      "Launch safely.

      Please !"

      Agreed.

      BUT: If it cost $10bn to build, I wonder what the insurance company risk assessment report was like? And how much is the premium?

      Gawd help them if it fails between launch and arriving at Lagrange L2...

      1. Blitheringeejit

        Re: Please, please, please

        Amen to that. But have they got a spare one in case of an accident?

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          Re: Please, please, please

          Spare? At US$10bn per copy? That would be a "NO"

          1. Col_Panek
            Mushroom

            If it blows up on the pad

            Most of the cost was in design. S/N 2 would cost far less. They probably have enough spare parts laying around to cobble one together. Still would be a bad day.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: If it blows up on the pad

              Nope, typically 80-90% of the cost is testing

              And if you can't build the replacement board using another identical XYZ chip from the same batch from 1995 then you are going to have to retest all the systems that it interacts with.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. G2
    Mushroom

    unusually bright star?

    "appearance of an unusually bright star"... hmm, would that be the [second stage of the] rocket blowing up?

    As famous expressions go, a rapid unscheduled disassembly tends to be unusually bright.

  12. decentralised
    Go

    It wasn't weather - NORAD instructed them that Santa has the right-of-way ........... sail before steam.

    But the best Xmas gift ever, now the two weeks (?) of terror!

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Pint

    A good few cases...

    ...of beer ----------------->

    ..for the launch and the C&C teams, not to mention the janitors and others keeping the place clean and tidy and running smoothly so no one trips over and the people we see on our screens have a good day...on Christmas Day :-)

    Although., I suggest they lay off it until after their shift is over!

  14. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Details & numbers

    https://spacenews.com/jwst-launch-marks-only-the-start-of-a-risky-deployment-process/

    "The first deployment takes place 33 minutes after liftoff, when it releases its solar panel. That will be followed by its first midcourse correction burn, called MCC-1a, which will take place 12.5 hours after liftoff. Those two events are the most time-sensitive ones for the spacecraft"

    "there are 344 single-point failures in the spacecraft, 80% of which are associated with deployment mechanisms"

    "The sunshield, for example, includes 140 release mechanisms, 70 hinge assemblies, eight deployment motors, about 400 pulleys and 90 cables that are a total of 400 meters long"

    "A maneuver 29 days after launch will place JWST into its final halo orbit"

  15. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

    Point Avoider

    Holy Crap! It's a Cosmic Christmas*! Freakin' literally!

    *: In the 70s there was (still might be?) this animation company, Nelvana. They did Rock n' Rule, Devil & Daniel Mouse and A Cosmic Christmas-- 3 space aliens visiting Earth on Chrimmy.

    Loved it so much I lost it when Scholastic offered the book. Over the last few years, I found it at my little sister's place, complete with my 5yr old signature. Was gonna pocket it then realized her kids would've read it, and it's part of their kidhood now.

    This thing launches and as far as I'm concerned it's Cos-Chrimmy for realsies, and I'm getting myself a copy of that book back in my life. Hand to heart.

    Warmest compliments of the season to all now, if I forget to later.

    1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

      Re: Point Avoider

      Found a copy. $30 for a 40yr old kids book. Freakin' boosted on account of nostalgia.

      Still, what're ya gonna do? You make a telescope a promise, you gotta keep it, y'know?

  16. Recessio
    Mushroom

    Stakes are high

    If this thing blows up on launch or fails to deploy, the rest of my PhD is ruined... Fingers crossed!

    1. MJB7
      Pint

      Re: Stakes are high

      Provided you are not part of the launch team, have one of these to help relieve your stress --->

      (And good luck with the rest of of the PhD.)

    2. msobkow Silver badge

      Re: Stakes are high

      I dare say for the researchers actually involved, their entire careers may well ride on success, not just a paper...

  17. stuartnz

    Looking forward to the launch, but

    It really will be the easy bit. Just reading NASA's pre-launch info sheet, this staggered me:

    "Of those 344 unfolds, 307 (87%) are critical, single-point failure areas" - if everything AFTER the launch works, including the 5 months of cooling before things really get started, THEN I'll raise a beer. Hell, I might even DRINK one, despite a severe alcohol intolerance. They'll have earned it.

  18. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Welp...

    She's made it out of the grasps of our atmosphere. Now for really hard parts of getting it to its final position.

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: Welp...

      "Webb's launch is only the start of what will be a complex series of initial activities over the next six months."...

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-59782057

  19. DJO Silver badge

    Part 1 - OK

    Has been launched successfully. 7:20am ET (12:20 UTC) 25 Dec

    Now the long wait until deployment.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Part 1 - OK

      Now part 2 - follow the progress here:

      https://jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/whereIsWebb.html

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