Nasa’s alien-hunting James Webb Space Telescope launch delayed by ‘incident’

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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 (Getty Images)
Engineers and technicians assemble the James Webb Space Telescope November 2, 2016 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland (Getty Images)

Nasa has been forced to delay the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope once again following an “incident”.

The problems happened as the satellite was being prepared for launch in French Guiana, where it had been scheduled to take off on 18 December.

But that date has now been pushed back after a part of the spacecraft was dropped and caused it to vibrate.

‘Technicians were preparing to attach Webb to the launch vehicle adapter, which is used to integrate the observatory with the upper stage of the Ariane 5 rocket,” Nasa said.

“A sudden, unplanned release of a clamp band – which secures Webb to the launch vehicle adapter – caused a vibration throughout the observatory.”

Nasa said that it will now examine whether the incident damaged any parts of the spacecraft, and said it would provide an update later this week.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be looking inside our solar system and out, in an attempt to better understand the universe. One of its key abilities means it can “sniff” the atmosphere of distant planets, allowing us to understand whether they might be able to support alien life.

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