James Webb Space Telescope reaches launch pad for Christmas liftoff

The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch on Saturday (Dec. 25) during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT). The massive observatory will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket operated by European launch provider Arianespace. You can watch launch coverage live at Space.com beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) courtesy of NASA or you can watch directly at the agency’s website.

Communications problem delays JWST launch

A communications problem has delayed the launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope by at least two more days, the agency announced late Dec. 14.

In a brief statement, NASA said that a “communication issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system” has postponed the launch. The launch, previously scheduled for Dec. 22, is now delayed to no earlier than Dec. 24.

Op-ed | Don’t wait for a disaster: Industry-led space traffic management

In 1956, a mid-air collision between two commercial planes above the Grand Canyon killed all 128 passengers. The rapid growth of commercial air traffic combined with a lag in air traffic control (ATC) improvements made such a disaster inevitable. Federal budget cuts prevented the government-operated ATC framework from establishing the necessary radar systems to improve air traffic safety. Unfortunately, it took the 1956 mid-air collision to trigger the funding and reforms needed to improve air safety.