The launch of the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed in order for additional testing to be done following an integration “incident.”
NASA, the European Space Agency, and launch provider Arianespace had been working towards a December 18 launch of JWST aboard an Ariane 5. However, the launch has now been pushed to no earlier than December 22.
In a press release following the announcement, NASA revealed that a “sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter – caused a vibration throughout the observatory.”
To ensure that the incident had not damaged JWST in any way, a NASA-led anomaly review board was immediately convened.
The press release appeared to lay blame for the incident at the feet of the European launch provider. “The incident occurred during operations at the satellite preparation facility in Kourou, French Guiana, performed under Arianespace overall responsibility,” said NASA.
An update from the anomaly review board is expected to be released at the end of this week.