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James Webb Telescope is set for launch in October

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is creating steady advances toward an October mission, as developers work to resolve several technical problems with the satellite while dealing with one new challenge. Eric Smith, JWST project director, stated in a March 16 briefing to NASA’s Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAC) that technicians had either finished or were in the phase of finishing up research on many technical problems.

NASA had monitored the project in subsequent months, none of which presented a danger to the project’s timetable. Concerns have been raised regarding excessive atmospheric pressure in the satellite’s sun shield, which could put a strain on it if the Ariane 5 rocket, which will fire JWST, jettisons its cargo fairing. Smith claimed that the company had fixed the problem after the organization applied a few repairs to the sun shield to withstand the critical pressure difference twice. Retorquing clamps have fixed another problem on the spaceship that could not have been mounted with enough torque.

Smith stated that the venture has 48 days of budget variance left, following estimates at this stage of progress. “We’re consuming it up at the planned rate,” he stated of the planned barrier. JWST is presently conducting a preliminary round of implementation evaluations, including those on its main mirror. The satellite would then be packed for shipping to Kourou, French Guiana, sometime this year for final release arrangements. According to Smith, the software is struggling with a modern technological challenge. During trials in January, two telecommunications transponders experienced different issues. Technicians have identified the problems with the two systems and have begun improvements this week.

Another point of contention is the satellite’s name. The spacecraft is titled after James Webb, the NASA director who led the organization during the lunar mission for most of the 1960s. Webb formerly served at the State Department, where he allegedly supervised programs aimed at absolving the agency of LGBT workers. Some people are annoyed by the name and have asked NASA to redesign the spacecraft. Smith mentioned that Webb’s operations at the State Department had been studied by both NASA’s lead researcher, Brian Odom, and other scholars across the service.

Although JWST is set to debut in October, the upcoming leading astrophysics project, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, is expected to be postponed due to a pause in operation throughout the pandemic. “We have been affected by COVID,” stated Julie McEnery, lead mission researcher for the expedition, formerly recognized as the Large Field Infrared Survey Telescope. In a speech at a similar conference on March 16, she responded by saying that the software has been operating at “70% quality” throughout the beginning of the pandemic. It will possibly continue at that level for many months as COVID 19 steadily fades.

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