NASA delays James Webb telescope launch due to poor weather

It's new target launch date is now December 25th.

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

The James Webb Space Telescope is finally ready for launch after 14 years in development. NASA cleared its launch readiness review and gave it the go-ahead for launch, which was supposed to take place on December 24th. Unfortunately, poor weather conditions have prompted the agency to delay its launch yet again. James Webb will be lifting off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket with the new target date of December 25th and a launch window of between 7:20 AM and 7:52 AM Eastern time.

This is the closest the telescope has ever gotten to starting its month-long journey towards its destination. It's been delayed numerous times in the past due to one reason or another — NASA targeted an October launch date after its development was delayed by the pandemic, but it determined that the telescope wouldn't be ready until November or December.

NASA (and its partners, the European and Canadian space agencies) then targeted a December 18th launch date, before pushing it back to December 22nd. The James Webb team needed the extra time to inspect the telescope and make sure nothing was damaged during an incident that happened at testing. Its launch was delayed to December 24th after that because of a communication issue between the telescope and its Ariane 5 launch vehicle. This time, NASA had already conducted a news conference confirming that the telescope is ready for launch before announcing the new target date.

After the James Webb telescope arrives in its orbit near the second Lagrange point of the Earth-Sun system, researchers around the world will be able to use it to peer at some of the universe's earliest galaxies, look into black holes and assess exoplanets' habitability. NASA will confirm the new launch date this evening.