Son of Hubble — getting expensive

Successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope is now slated for launch in 2014. The $5 billion mission is once again plagued by cost overruns.

Science News reports:

How can astronomers advise NASA on how to trim the costs of developing missions if no one will tell them how much the costliest mission of all, the James Webb Space Telescope, is running over budget?

That’s what Alan Boss, chair of the independent NASA Astrophysics Subcommittee, would like to know. When the subcommittee met in Washington, D.C., on September 16 and 17, Boss and his colleagues already knew that the $5 billion infrared space observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor now set for launch in 2014, was once again in need of a monetary transfusion.

What Boss wanted to know was how much. But no one in room 3H46 at NASA headquarters was willing to talk dollars and sense — when Boss, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., asked if anyone in the room could cite a dollar figure, his question was met with a silence as deep as any in the vast empty reaches of intergalactic space.

Fear of making a huge and embarrassing error like the one that produced Hubble Space Telescope’s infamously misshapen primary mirror may be causing JWST scientists and engineers to go overboard and do too much testing, Weiler said. The comprehensive report on JWST due next month, led by John Casani of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will cite instances where engineers on the mission may be overzealous in testing equipment.

JWST gobbles up about 40 percent of NASA’s astrophysics science budget.

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One Response to “Son of Hubble — getting expensive”

  1. Son of Hubble may not launch till after 2015 « The k2p blog Says:

    […] it became clear the the son of Hubble the James Webb Space Telescope, was late and over budget. Costs had ballooned to 5 billion dollars (from the earlier 3.5 billion dollars) and launch was expected in 2014. It has now been acknowledged […]

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