James Webb Space Telescope

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch date postponed to Oct. 31
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a new official launch date: October 31, 2021. NASA announced a delay of JWST in early June but hadn't given a new date then. The delay is due to technical difficulties and the impact of COVID-19.

In a statement released by NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, described Webb as the "world's most complex space observatory", adding NASA had "worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic."

Zurbuchen reassured that "the team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year."

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch postponed due to COVID-19
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala
Ball Aerospace lead optical test engineer Dave Chaney inspects six primary mirror segments, critical elements of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, prior to cryogenic testing in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on yet another industry. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope was supposed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope with improved infrared resolution and a broader range of astronomical and cosmological investigation in March 2021, but due to the ramifications of COVID-19, the launch was postponed. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science, told the Space Studies Board of National Academies that the pandemic had slowed down the work on the spacecraft, making the March 2021 launch date impossible. A new launch date has yet to be announced.