WASHINGTON — NASA will provide an updated launch date for the James Webb Space Telescope early next year, even as some warn that the mission might face further delays.
At a Dec. 6 hearing of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said the revised launch date would come after an independent review of the status of the spacecraft.
“At this moment in time, with the information that I have, I believe it’s achievable,” he said of the current launch window of March to June 2019, which NASA announced in September after delaying the launch from October 2018. However, he said an independent review “is exactly what we should be doing, and frankly I have directed the team to do just that in January.”
That review won’t start until January, he said, because of ongoing tests of unfolding the sunshade of the space telescope. Previous tests, he said, took much longer than anticipated, playing a key factor in the decision to delay the launch. An updated launch date, he said, would likely come in “January or February.”
Such an independent review was proposed earlier in the hearing by another witness, retired aerospace executive Thomas ...