This is Why NASA’s Space Telescope is Running A Year Behind

In order to launch, the James Webb will probably need more money from Congress.

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Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope November 2, 2016 at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope keeps getting pushed back. The telescope’s launch has been pushed back about a year, from spring 2019 to May 2020, NASA officials announced. This delay marks the second in six months for the Webb, the successor to the famed Hubble. The $8.8 billion project is two decades in the making, reports The Atlantic, and though there have been delays in the past, this is the biggest pushback so far. The new delay means that the Webb project is at risk of spending more money than it has to spend. The project was first proposed way back in 1996, and officials thought it would cost between $1 billion and $3.5 billion but then costs ballooned. In 2011, Congress mandated that NASA should not exceed a total of $8 billion for the development-and-construction phase of the telescope. But the phase is still going on. Webb might need to receive renewed authorization from Congress to move forward. So why the delay? NASA said that it was caused by a mix of “avoidable technical errors” and estimates that testing that proved too optimistic, reports The Atlantic. “Frankly, the tasks are taking longer to complete than we expected,” said Robert Lightfoot, who has served as NASA’s acting administrator since the start of the Trump administration, according to The Atlantic. The next few months are critical for the James Webb Space Telescope.

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