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James Webb Space Telescope launch delayed to Christmas Eve

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope meets the payload fairing of the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope meets the payload fairing of the Ariane 5 rocket that will launch it to space from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. (Image credit: M.Pedoussaut/ESA)

The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again.

NASA's long-awaited space observatory is now scheduled to lift off from French Guiana no earlier than Dec. 24, two days later than previously planned. 

"The James Webb Space Telescope team is working a communication issue between the observatory and the launch vehicle system," NASA officials said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec. 14). "This will delay the launch date to no earlier than Friday, Dec. 24. We will provide more information about the new launch date no later than Friday, Dec. 17."

Related: There are over 300 ways that the new James Webb Space Telescope could fail, NASA says

The James Webb Space Telescope will ride to space on an Ariane 5 rocket provided by the European launch company Arianespace. 

Engineers at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana, just stacked the new space telescope on top of its Ariane 5 rocket on Saturday (Dec. 11).

Today's delay is only the latest in a series of ongoing delays that have plagued the Webb telescope, which was originally scheduled to launch in 2007. The most recent delay was announced just three weeks ago, when NASA reported a problem with a clamp on the launch vehicle adapter. 

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Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time Hanneke anjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.