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NASA delays Webb Space Telescope’s liftoff to 2020

James Webb Space Telescope
An artist’s conception shows the James Webb Space Telescope with its five-layered, foldable sunshield. Issues with the sunshield have contributed to launch delays. (NASA Illustration)

NASA is delaying the scheduled launch of its next flagship observatory, the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope, by a year — which may hike its cost so high that Congress will have to OK more money.

Acting agency administrator Robert Lightfoot said that the outlook for additional delays emerged from an internal schedule review, and that a new date for the telescope’s launch on an Ariane 5 rocket would be negotiated with the European Space Agency.

For now, NASA is looking at launch in May 2020, rather than the spring of 2019 as previously planned.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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