Herschel telescope launch rescheduled for May 14

Herschel telescope launch rescheduled for May 14 Paris - Launch of the Herschel telescope, the most powerful infrared telescope ever flown into space, has been rescheduled for May 14, the European Space Agency
(ESA) said Tuesday. The launch had originally been set for April 16 but was postponed when an anomaly was discovered during tests of a sub-assembly identical to the one on the Ariane 5 launch rocket that is to put the Herschel telescope and the Planck microwave observatory into orbit.

Herschel's main objective will be to study the relatively cool objects in the universe, particularly the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies.

Because of its enormous range, Herschel will tap into previously unexplored wavelengths and examine phenomena that had been out of reach for other observatories, the ESA said.

The telescope's primary mirror is 3.5 meters in diameter, more than four times larger than those of previous infrared space telescopes and almost one and a half times larger than that of the Hubble space telescope.

The Planck's primary mission will be to study the cosmic microwave background, the residue radiation from the Big Bang that theoretically created the universe.

In a press statement, the ESA said preparation of the two satellites for launch from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, was continuing "flawlessly." (dpa)