Teams working in Northrop Grumman’s spacecraft factory in Southern California have connected the spacecraft and science modules of the James Webb Space Telescope for the first time, a major milestone as engineers prepare to verify a fix to tears in the observatory’s sunshield, and begin launch vibration and acoustic testing in the coming months.
President Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget request includes $21.02 billion for NASA, funding the agency’s ongoing efforts to develop commercial spacecraft and infrastructure in low-Earth orbit and to press ahead with construction and launch of the world’s most powerful rocket and the Orion crew ships that will carry astronauts back to the moon.
Engineers at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center tasked with overseeing launches of scientific satellites and interplanetary probes will be responsible later this year for ensuring six major missions safely get into space over a span of a little more than six months, beginning with the launch of NOAA’s new GOES-S weather observatory on an Atlas 5 rocket March 1.
NASA and the U.S. Air Force are expected to return to normal operations Tuesday after lawmakers passed a budget bill Monday evening, ending a government funding lapse that threatened to cut off live television coverage of an International Space Station spacewalk and interrupt SpaceX launch operations in Florida and California.
NASA’s $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has completed critical end-to-end testing in a giant vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center, proving the telescope will work properly in the deep cold of space, bring starlight to a sharp focus and precisely track its astronomical targets when launched in 2019.
Extra testing of the James Webb Space Telescope and delays in assembling the powerful observatory will push back the $10 billion mission’s launch by at least six months to early 2019, officials announced last week as the telescope successfully completed an extensive performance test inside a cryogenic vacuum chamber in Houston.