The $10 billion Webb – considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – was supposed to go up on Saturday, but it was hit by a shock during preparations for launch, which led to a four-day delay.

Next Friday – Christmas Eve – NASA launches its newest space telescope. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson confirmed Friday that the James Webb Space Telescope will attempt a launch on December 24. The European Ariane missile will provide the lift from South America and French Guiana.

The $10 billion Webb – considered the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – was supposed to go up on Saturday, but it was hit by a shock during preparations for launch, which led to a four-day delay. Then a bad contact link on the rocket had to be repaired, and the launch was postponed for another two days.

US and European space officials on Friday signed off on the launch date, after a final round of testing, and Nelson expects a smaller crowd at the launch site due to the holidays. Taking off is scheduled for 7:20 a.m. EDT, “Since Christmas Eve, all the congressional delegations that have been going down have evaporated,” he told The Associated Press. He noted that even the NASA team and contractors had dwindled. But it will be there.

After years of flying, Webb will look back to roughly the beginning of time, when the first stars and galaxies were forming, while also examining the atmospheres of planets orbiting the stars closest to their home. NASA is partnering with the European and Canadian space agencies in the huge project.

“There’s a lot of riding on this, it just opens up all sorts of new understandings and discoveries about the universe,” Nelson said. Is there a better birthday present than seeing a telescope launch? “All I want for Christmas is not my front teeth, but for JWST’s success,” Nelson replied, referring to the telescope for his short.

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