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NASA Announces New James Webb Space Telescope Target Launch Date

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NASA has moved the James Webb Space Telescope's launch date from March 2021 to Oct. 31, 2021 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The space agency said Friday it based this decision on a risk assessment of the program's remaining pre-launch activities.

"The team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Impacts related to safety, workforce, shift disruptions and various technical matters contributed to the launch's delay. Northrop Grumman continues to perform tests as the program's prime contractor. NASA intends to keep costs within the $8.8 billion budget as activities continue.

The observatory is set to undergo environmental tests before its shipment to the French Guiana-based launch site. James Webb Space Telescope will use infrared technology to help scientists further study the formation of planets.