Identifying and studying the Fault
At Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, a defective data connection between the James Webb Space Telescope and launchpad equipment was discovered. In a briefing on Thursday, representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA claimed it was the cause of the latest launch delay for the large observatory (Dec. 16).
The European Space Agency (ESA), which owns a 10% interest in the James Webb Space Telescope mission, is supplying the rocket that will launch the 6.5-tonne telescope into space. The Ariane 5 rocket, which has been in service since the mid-1990s and is operated by the European corporation Arianespace, is one of the most reliable launchers available.
However, engineers building the huge telescope for its imminent launch from Europe’s Spaceport recently discovered that a wire was to blame. It was unable to operate effectively, resulting in data delays between the telescope and a “launch table.” The launch has been moved back from December 22 to no earlier than December 24, with more details due later on Thursday.
In the briefing, ESA director of space transportation Daniel Neuenschwander said, “It’s an interface issue in the electrical network connecting the observatory and the ground support equipment.” “It’s a cable in the launch table that is experiencing data loss regularly.”
Further Investigations and Findings
ESA and NASA teams are still researching the problem, according to Neuenschwander, and plan to disclose further information later on Thursday.
Webb has not yet been sealed within the Ariane 5’s fairing, which will shield it during liftoff and early ascent through the atmosphere. Webb was placed aboard the rocket earlier this week. During the so-called “aliveness test,” the cable problem was identified. This test was performed to ensure the spacecraft’s safety before it was encased in the rocket fairing, according to Thomas Zurbuchen. He works for NASA’s science mission directorate as an associate administrator.
“The aliveness test was postponed due to the interface issue,” Zurbuchen explained. “The test lasted several hours, and it was the most essential part.” We’ll have a meeting tonight at about 6 p.m. E.T. to see if we’ve passed the aliveness test and can move forward with the encapsulation.”
The teams are not taking any chances with the $10 billion observatories, according to Zurbuchen. The design and construction took 30 years (and is already many years delayed and a few billion dollars over budget).
Zurbuchen remarked, “This was always going to be a special launch.” “At NASA, we’ve recently had four launches with several communication failures like this, and we still went forward with the launch.” We began to take more risks. We’re not taking any chances with Webb since this is already a precarious situation. So we are taking care that everything works just right.”