Launch of "James Webb" telescope delayed after incident

The launch of the new "James Webb" space telescope into space is delayed after an incident during launch preparations.
The telescope is to fly 1.5 million kilometres into space (APA/AFP)

The unplanned loosening of a clamping band caused a vibration throughout the observatory, the European space agency Esa announced on Tuesday night. Experts would now carry out additional tests to ensure that no components were damaged in the incident.

The launch of the joint project of the space agencies of Europe, the USA and Canada was planned for 18 December from the Kourou spaceport in French Guyana. It is now expected to be delayed by four days.

The telescope is scheduled to fly 1.5 million kilometres into space. It will take about four weeks to get there. Originally, the launch was planned for October 2018. Scientists want to use the telescope to learn more about the early universe. They hope to look back into the universe shortly after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. "James Webb" follows the "Hubble" telescope, which has been in use for more than 30 years.