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Webb launch confirmed for December 24, 2021

Ten years late and twenty times over budget the European Space Agency (ESA) yesterday confirmed that the launch of NASA’s infrared James Webb Space Telescope is now scheduled for December 24, 2021.

The ESA announcement is only a couple of sentences long, and does not mention if engineers had solved the intermittent ground communications issue with the telescope. Further tweets from ESA and NASA also said nothing about the communication issue.

A final readiness review is set for December 21st where a final launch decision will be made.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


The print edition can be purchased at Amazon. Or you can buy it directly from the author and get an autographed copy.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Mitch S.

    All fingers crossed, toes too!
    Really hoping ten years from now people will say “That thing took ridiculously long to build and was ridiculously overbudget but it’s producing great data”.

  • Captain Emeritus

    10 years from now, SpaceX may park an optical telescope, with a 23 ton, 200 inch lens like Mt. Palamor (or something really big) right next to it.
    I hope Webb makes it too, but, it’s been a boondoggle so far.

  • George C

    If you were an intelligent entity looking to send a message you might very well choose to use an infrared signal because your audience would be those looking for faint signals at the very edge of the observable universe.

    So this Webb thing might finally see the end of the Fermi paradox. Not saying, just thinking about it.

  • Alton

    I would be happy ? if SoaceX took some off the shelf parts and new jury rigged junk with Today’s advances and upgraded and up orbited the Space Telescope ?. Out of their private Pocket Change…
    That would be a real advancement !

  • Ray Van Dune

    “So this Webb thing might finally see the end of the Fermi paradox.”

    Yeah, when aliens land on the White House lawn and say “Okay, we just couldn’t bear to see you pissing away so much money on huge telescopes that can’t penetrate our safety shields, the ones that protect us from the Uurghons… who are probably right behind us.”

  • Doubting Thomas

    Ray –

    Uurghons huh? Well at least it would be a whole set of new and really different problems.

  • If they’re launching on the 24th, I recommend that they consult with these guys regarding launch timing …

    A collision would turn hundreds of millions of kids worldwide against space travel.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @ George C,
    No offence, but that’s a bit of flawed logic there. Anyone looking at the far infrared is looking at the early days, the epoch with least chance of civilization.
    A better choice would be a blinding and planet sterilising tight beam of high energy rays.
    That would attract the attention of at least half the planet!

  • wayne

    while we’re waiting…..

    “The Universe In A Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Telescope & The Visionaries Who Built It”
    R. Zimmerman
    Explorers Club (June 2008)

  • Steve Richter

    excellent YouTube video on engineering of the telescope

    I am impressed actually that the project managers have been able to push the project to completion and launch. Must be incredibly difficult to get the entire system to work as designed.

  • George C

    Lee Stevenson, yes, such a sensitive instrument as Webb, and well positioned, is intended in part to satisfy the curiosity of those who can comprehend the cosmic expansion and that older is faster. But that is not all it can see. Something closer, newer and brighter but with the same energy photons will stick out and be seen sharply. Mostly these will be natural. But it is a great place for unnatural signals too.

  • Lee Stevenson: recommend (if not already read) “Inconstant Moon” Niven 1971 Hugo Winner 1972

  • Localfluff

    The clock is ticking and still no further delay?
    That worries me that something has gone wrong. I thought that “delay” was the whole purpose of the mission.
    They hope seeing the very first star in the universe that ever lit up! At the same time as it lights up!!!
    What is 13 years delay compared with 13 000 000 000 years delay of light travel time?
    Stop complaining, astronomers say. And launch their mirror when Sancta Clause can help them.

  • Questioner

    James Webb Space Telescope Launch Update

    “However, due to adverse weather conditions at Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, the flight VA256 to launch Webb – initially scheduled for Dec. 24 – is being postponed. The new targeted launch date is Dec. 25, as early as possible within the following launch window: ….”

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