The big picture: NASA has once again delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope due to a last-minute issue. At the current rate, it'll take nothing short of a miracle to get the observatory into space before Christmas. But eh, a small delay at this stage is better than something that can't be remedied once it is in space.
NASA said it is working on a communication issue between the telescope and the launch vehicle. As a result, launch will now take place no earlier than December 24. The space agency promised to provide more information on the new launch date no later than December 17.
Last month, NASA bumped the launch date to no earlier than December 22 after an unexpected incident when securing the observatory to the launch vehicle adapter. After a thorough review, it was determined that the telescope had incurred no damage.
Development on what would become the James Webb Space Telescope started way back in 1996 as the Next Generation Space Telescope, a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It was renamed after NASA administrator James E. Webb in 2002 with an initial launch set for 2007.
Unfortunately, myriad issues and cost overruns have delayed the launch well over a dozen times. By the time it is all said and done, the project will likely have cost NASA nearly $10 billion - well over initial estimates of $1.6 billion.
The James Webb Space Telescope will blast off from Kourou in French Guiana courtesy of an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, hopefully on Christmas Eve.