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Washington (AFP) – The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, which astronomers say will herald a new era of discovery, has been postponed to December 22 after an accident at its launch facility in French Guiana, NASA said Monday.
Technicians were preparing to attach the $ 10 billion observatory to a launcher adapter, used to attach it to the upper stage of an Ariane 5 rocket.
“A sudden and unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launcher’s adapter – caused a vibration throughout the observatory,” the US space agency said in a blog post, adding that the The incident had occurred while operations were taking place “under Arianespace’s overall responsibility.”
Arianespace is the French launch company responsible for launching the telescope.
A team led by NASA is now investigating how this happened and is performing tests “to determine with certainty that the incident did not damage any components.”
The space telescope was originally scheduled to launch on December 18, so for now the delay is only a few days.
Researchers want to use the largest and most powerful Webb space telescope ever built to travel back in time 13.5 billion years and see the first stars and galaxies that formed, a few hundred million years ago. after the Big Bang.
A key feature is its ability to detect infrared, because by the time the light from the first objects reaches our telescopes, it has moved to the red end of the electromagnetic spectrum due to the expansion of the universe.
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