NASA has postponed the launch of James Webb Telescope to 2019. The alien-hunting telescope was earlier scheduled to be launched in October 2018, but now it will be sent to space between March and June 2019. According to the International Business Times, the American space agency announced that the postponement is not indicative of any technical issue but that that integration of all the elements of the telescope is taking more time than expected.

The James Webb telescope will study several astrophysical phenomena

A joint project of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency, the multi-purpose James Webb space observatory is also referred to as the successor of NASA’s Hubble telescope.

Hubble has made several interesting discoveries in the past 27 years, and NASA now expects the James Webb to build on and expand those discoveries. After its launch, the powerful Webb telescope will serve thousands of astronomers throughout the world. This infrared-optimized, 21-foot diameter telescope will study several astrophysical phenomena, including the formation of the first galaxies and star as well as the different objects within Earth’s solar system. The Webb telescope has also been provided with the intriguing capability of detecting the atmospheres of exoplanets, so it won’t be a big surprise if it discovers some signs of the building blocks of life on some exoplanet.

Installation of Sun-shields is taking more time than expected

Under the agreement between NASA and ESA, it is essential for the American space agency to provide a 12-month launch window before the James Webb telescope is sent into space. After carefully assessing the October 2018 date, NASA found that it was necessary to delay the launch of the telescope.

During analysis, NASA took into consideration all important tasks to be completed, the current rate of integration of the spacecraft elements, and the lessons learned from testing of the scientific instruments at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Eric Smith, Program Director for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA, said the Sun-shields of this telescope are highly sophisticated, and their installation is taking more time than expected.

Despite this delay, all the tests of the spacecraft and the telescope, to date, have revealed that the mission is at par with expected performance level. NASA has made a huge investment in this project, and therefore the space agency wants to proceed very cautiously and systematically on this project to ensure its successful launch in 2019.