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posted by martyb on Thursday December 07, @08:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the hurricane-blew-schedule-out-of-the-water dept.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is warning of possible further delays to the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST):

A government watchdog is warning that the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the long-awaited successor to the Hubble that's been beset by schedule snafus and cost overruns, might face further delays. NASA announced in September it had pushed back the launch date of the JWST from late 2018 to some time in the spring of 2019 due to testing delays partly blamed on Hurricane Harvey's impact on Texas' Gulf Coast in August.

On Wednesday, lawmakers on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee were told it could take even longer to launch the world's most powerful telescope. "More delays are possible given the risks associated with the work ahead and the level of schedule reserves that are now (below) what's recommended," said Cristina Chaplain, director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management for the Government Accountability Office.

[...] Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for science missions, told lawmakers he expects the space agency will be able to meet the spring 2019 schedule. "I believe it's achievable," he said.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019

Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
NASA Unlikely to Have Enough Plutonium-238 for Missions by the Mid-2020s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs


Original Submission

Related Stories

James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed 5 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) remains on track for an October 2018 launch:

JWST passed its final vibration testing Tuesday ensuring that the craft is finally fit for spaceflight. NASA has scheduled the telescope for an October 2018 launch, but the telescope was originally supposed to be launched in 2011 marking a long history of major cost overruns and delays.

NASA announced last December that the JWST was halfway completed, but the project is currently $7.2 billion over its initial budget and seven years behind the original schedule. The JWST was initially projected to cost $1.6 billion. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) now estimates the final cost of the telescope at $8.8 billion.

[...] During vibration testing in December at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center, accelerometers attached to the telescope detected "unexpected responses" and engineers were forced to shut the test down to protect the hardware. The kind of response NASA found could potentially create serious problems when the telescope is launched into space.


Original Submission

Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019 5 comments

The first launch of the SLS has slipped again:

NASA has decided it must delay the maiden flight of its Space Launch System rocket, presently scheduled for November 2018, until at least early 2019. This decision was widely expected due to several problems with the rocket, Orion spacecraft, and ground launch systems. The delay was confirmed in a letter from a NASA official released Thursday by the US Government Accountability Office.

The Falcon Heavy will be able to deliver payloads that are similar to what SLS Block 1 can carry:

In its maiden flight configuration, named Block 1, the heavy-lifter will be able to haul up to 77 tons (70 metric tons) of cargo to low Earth orbit, more than double the capacity of the most powerful launcher flying today — United Launch Alliance's Delta 4-Heavy. The Block 1 version of SLS will fly with an upper stage propelled by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10 engine, based on the Delta 4's second stage.

SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, scheduled to make its first flight later this year, will come in just shy of the SLS Block 1's capacity if the commercial space company gave up recovering its booster stages.

NASA plans to introduce a bigger four-engine second stage on the EM-2 launch, a configuration of the SLS named Block 1B.

GAO report.


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019 9 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope has been delayed yet again:

The launch of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been rescheduled to occur sometime between March and June 2019 from French Guiana. The delay follows a schedule assessment of the remaining integration and test activities that need to occur prior to launch. The JWST was previously scheduled to launch in October 2018. "The change in launch timing is not indicative of hardware or technical performance concerns," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington, said in a NASA press release. "Rather, the integration of the various spacecraft elements is taking longer than expected."

The change in launch window request has been coordinated with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is providing the Ariane 5 launch vehicle for the JWST. As part of an agreement with ESA, NASA recently conducted a routine schedule assessment to ensure launch preparedness and determined that a reschedule was necessary.

While testing of the telescope and science instruments at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, continues to go well and remain on schedule, the spacecraft itself, made up of the spacecraft bus and sunshield, has experienced delays during its integration and testing at Northrop Grumman in Redondo Beach, California. "Webb's spacecraft and sunshield are larger and more complex than most spacecraft," said Eric Smith, program director for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The combination of some integration activities taking longer than initially planned, such as the installation of more than 100 sunshield membrane release devices, factoring in lessons learned from earlier testing, like longer time spans for vibration testing, has meant the integration and testing process is just taking longer. Considering the investment NASA has made, and the good performance to date, we want to proceed very systematically through these tests to be ready for a Spring 2019 launch."

An upside? A better chance of being prepared to image Planet Nine during the 5-10 year operating life of JWST.

Also at NASA.


Original Submission

NASA Unlikely to Have Enough Plutonium-238 for Missions by the Mid-2020s 41 comments

A Government Accountability Office report has found that the U.S. is unlikely to produce enough Plutonium-238 for NASA missions about a decade from now. The isotope has been used in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) on missions such as Voyager, Cassini, and the Mars Science Laboratory:

Another GAO report notes: "[...], DOE currently maintains about 35 kilograms (kg) [77 pounds] of Pu-238 isotope designated for NASA missions, about half of which meets power specifications for spaceflight. However, given NASA's current plans for solar system exploration, this supply could be exhausted within the next decade."

[...] To address the plutonium problem, in 2011 NASA provided funding to the Department of Energy (DOE) to restart domestic production of the substance. The program is called the Pu-238 Supply Project. So far, the Project has produced ∼3.5 ounces (100 grams) of Pu-238. DOE identified an interim goal of producing 10 to 17.5 ounces (300 to 500 grams) of new Pu-238 per year by 2019. The goal is to produce 1.5 kilograms of new Pu-238 per year—considered full production—by 2023, at the earliest.

GAO is questioning the Supply Project's ability to meet its goal of producing 1.5 kilograms of new Pu-238 per year by 2026. For one thing, the oversight agency's interviews with DOE officials revealed that the agency hasn't perfected the chemical processing required to extract new Pu-238 from irradiated targets to meet production goals.

Only one DOE reactor is currently qualified to make Pu-238:

NASA's plutonium will be produced at two of these reactors, but only one of them is currently qualified to make Pu-238. GAO reported that initial samples of the new Pu-238 did not meet spaceflight specifications because of impurities. However, according to DOE, the samples can be blended and used with existing Pu-238.


Original Submission

WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs 9 comments

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) may have some of its capabilities scaled back due to overspending on the James Webb Space Telescope and the added cost of a coronagraph that was demanded by exoplanet researchers:

NASA will have to scale back its next big orbiting observatory to avoid busting its budget and affecting other missions, an independent panel says. The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is due for launch in the mid-2020s. But 1 year after NASA gave the greenlight its projected cost is $3.6 billion, roughly 12% overbudget. "I believe reductions in scope and complexity are needed," Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., wrote in a memo that NASA released last Thursday.

Designed to investigate the nature of dark energy and study exoplanets, WFIRST was chosen by the astronomy community as its top space-based mission priority in the 2010 decadal survey entitled New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. But the start of the project was initially delayed by the huge overspend on its predecessor, the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in 2019. Then last year, a midterm review of the 2010 decadal survey warned that WFIRST could go the same way and advised NASA to form a panel of independent experts to review the project.

[...] Zurbuchen's memo to Scolese directs the lab to retain the basic elements of the mission—the 2.4-meter mirror, widefield camera, and coronagraph—but to seek cost-saving "reductions." Hertz says this will require reducing the capabilities of instruments but ensuring they remain "above the science floor laid down by the decadal survey." The coronagraph will be recategorized as a "technology demonstration instrument," removing the burden of achieving a scientific target. The change will also save money, Hertz explains. Hertz says exoplanet researchers shouldn't worry about the proposed changes. "We know we'll get good science out of the coronagraph. We'll be able to see debris disks, zodiacal dust, and exoplanets in wide orbits," he says. Astronomers wanting to see Earth twins in the habitable zone may be disappointed, however.


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @08:53AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @08:53AM (#606717)

    Because the rich deserve a tax break, but NASA doesn't deserve decent funding.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:02AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:02AM (#606719)

    Political dimwit!

    Management of a billion-dollar-project is not a matter of your beliefs, not even in the Christian States of America.

    Yeah, sure, he's dealing with congress, which completely explains it, but still ...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:38AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:38AM (#606737)

      > Management of a billion-dollar-project is not a matter of your beliefs

      I beg to differ. At the end of the day, risk is all about guesswork. So you can make a risk register and plug in relevant guess of the risks - but it will always be a guess, with errors associated with the experience and ingenuity of your staff. The problem with large research projects is the risks are huge. Factor 2 overspend is the norm (but try telling that to a funding agency).

      Compare it to building a house, where the risks are extremely well known once the foundations are in. Even here, 20 % overspend is not rare.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:25AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:25AM (#606749)

        You misunderstood me: my comment was not about the guesstimates involved in risk management. These unknowns are inherent, and there's proven methods (like your overspend factor) to deal with them. And I assume NASA used them, because they invented some of them.

        What I hear this guy saying is, after taking away his congress-soothing choice of words, and after adding a lot of internal-engineer-style honesty:

        "We have a pretty solid project planning developed with state-of-the-art-methods [this is NASA, we're professionals, not MBA-floozies]. We then lowered the initial numbers to get your approval, because we know full well the kind of science-scrooges you are. We are now not only starting to eat into our reserves (after all, that was expected and was planned for). Rather, we have reached a point where statistics tell us that our initial risk estimates were wrong (that hurricane was a once-in-a-lifetime hit!), and therefore our remaining reserves are probably too low (according to experience) for the rest of the project. This is Not Good (tm).

        In a just and honest world, I would be asking you for more money now, to offset the underestimated hurricane problems, to refill our reserves, to be prepared for future mishaps which I know are coming. But I also know *you*. I know that - despite our initial, beautified numbers, you already think we're spending too much. I know that you would rather cancel our most important project now (and five more on top!) instead of doing the reasonable thing, especially in the current political climate. So I am hereby telling you the lie that all is fine, to prevent you from stopping the program. I fully know that from now on things will need to go _exceptionally well_ for us to scrape by at all - if it is a "normal" project we will need more money, and if it's even slightly "bad" we'll be needing _a lot more_, on short notice. Doing nothing about these risks now is bad management, and I know it, and I know you will hold it against me in the future when I'll be back. But the alternative is cancelling the program now (with high likeliness) instead of having it cancelled later (with much lower likeliness). So I know what I have to tell you: "

        "I believe that (from now on no bad things won't be happening at all and finishing on the existing budget:) it's achievable."

        Like, yeah, right. "Achievable" in the sense of "I cannot prove conclusively that it's impossible".

        BUT!!: smart move, IMNSHO, because I really think that in our times, concerning the NASA budget, congress actually _deserves_ being lied to.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday December 07, @07:56PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @07:56PM (#606970) Journal

          I really think that in our times, concerning the NASA budget, congress actually _deserves_ being lied to.

          Because that has worked out so well in the past?

          --
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Thursday December 07, @09:12AM (23 children)

    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @09:12AM (#606723) Journal

    I mean, it is not like it is rocket science, or something. Except it is? Delay and expense are worth it to ensure that the scope actually makes it into space, and the proper position, and actually works. Otherwise all the investment so far will be lost as well.

    Consider: when they screwed up on the Hubble, we were able to go up there and fix it. Probably not going to be feasible with the Webb. So let's get it right the first time, since it will be the only time.

    --
    If you could ensure that your submissions are balanced, accurate and unbiased, you might stand a better chance
    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @09:28AM (#606732)

      Uh-oh, this is not a balanced comment.
      I see a strong bias towards the first time, like the first time is some sort of a special snow flake. That's cherry picking, not scientific at all.

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by FatPhil on Thursday December 07, @09:56AM (5 children)

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Thursday December 07, @09:56AM (#606745) Homepage
      They'd not fix it, they'd simply build a replacement. However, as Lagrangian points are limited, they'd need to arm the replacement with some kind of laser weapon to blast the old telescope to smithereens first, so they would actually have one literal shot at it. But that's untested tech, so they'd probably need to prove it was workable by putting some laser-toting satelites in closer orbit around earth first.

      You know, I think I may have just worked out how they could get more funding for this...
      --
      I was worried about my command. I was the scientist of the Holy Ghost.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:07AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @10:07AM (#606748)

        A laser in space that can fry you like an ant, or a microwave laser in space that can make your head heat up and explode (the latter, like in Scanners)?

        You should be very careful what you wish for, because the shit that is capable today.... well it is enough to piss yourself, even if you're not incontinent...

      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Thursday December 07, @03:13PM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday December 07, @03:13PM (#606810) Journal

        I was going to say they should have included a "defense" laser from the beginning, to secure military funding.

        If you can't compete with the military, join them?

      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday December 07, @06:10PM (1 child)

        by Freeman (732) on Thursday December 07, @06:10PM (#606907) Journal

        Or, you know, someone could hitch a ride with SpaceX and get up there to fix it.

        --
        "I said in my haste, All men are liars." Psalm 116:11
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by takyon on Thursday December 07, @11:28AM (4 children)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday December 07, @11:28AM (#606764) Journal

      It has been argued that space telescopes gobble up funding [nature.com] that could be used by productive ground-based astronomy. But the capabilities you can get in return are just too overwhelming.

      https://jwst-docs.stsci.edu/display/JSP/JWST+GTO+Observation+Specifications#JWSTGTOObservationSpecifications-ObservationsofSolarSystemObjects [stsci.edu]

      Many of the most interesting astronomical targets (exoplanets, protoplanetary/debris disks, brown dwarfs, KBOs) require infrared observations which will never be as good from the ground, even with the help of adaptive optics. In fact, its location at L2 forgoes even more observation-interfering heat than would be possible at LEO (like Hubble).

      JWST is past the point of cancellation. Now it has to get up there and work properly. If the launch vehicle explodes or the telescope fails to work, it will be the biggest blow to astronomy in a long time. This thing has a credible chance of finding evidence of life on exoplanets, will provide the best ever views of many objects in and out of the solar system, etc. We will be lucky to get ATLAST [wikipedia.org]/HDST [wikipedia.org]/LUVOIR [wikipedia.org] in the 2030s, especially if JWST fails. Apparently, future flagships would have to be serviceable due to a law Congress passed in 2010. Hopefully, someone will come up with a relatively cheap way to refuel JWST once it becomes unable to do any more station-keeping.

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      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Thursday December 07, @03:53PM (3 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @03:53PM (#606837)

        If we had a permanent human presence on the Moon, this might not be such an issue: we could build ground telescopes on the Moon cheaper than space telescopes, and they'd be a lot easier to service. The main disadvantage is you wouldn't have as much flexibility in which direction you point them. Of course, this would only work with a significant human presence there already: manufacturing facilities, people on hand to build them, qualified people who can take a rover out and service a telescope if there's a problem, etc. With a space telescope, if it doesn't work perfectly right away, you have to spend tons of money on a manned mission to send someone up there to fix it.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday December 07, @04:09PM (2 children)

          by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday December 07, @04:09PM (#606842) Journal

          With a space telescope, if it doesn't work perfectly right away, you have to spend tons of money on a manned mission to send someone up there to fix it.

          I don't see any reason why it can't be done with robots. The not-designed-to-be-serviced JWST faces a very simple challenge to its maximum lifespan: it will run out of propellant for station-keeping. If it can't be refueled or maintained by an external thruster, then that would be very. UNFORTUNATE.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @08:29PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @08:29PM (#606978)

            It's orbit would degrade, from a LaGrange point? And then it would plummet back to earth? Your point is taken, takyon, but not for station-keeping, for aiming the darn thing, and keeping its solar shield pointed, you know, toward the sun.

            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday December 07, @09:05PM

              by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday December 07, @09:05PM (#606988) Journal

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope#Orbit [wikipedia.org]

              The JWST will be located near the second Lagrange point (L2) of the Earth-Sun system, which is 1,500,000 kilometers (930,000 mi) from Earth, directly opposite to the Sun. Normally an object circling the Sun farther out than Earth would take longer than one year to complete its orbit, but near the L2 point the combined gravitational pull of the Earth and the Sun allow a spacecraft to orbit the Sun in the same time it takes the Earth. The telescope will circle about the L2 point in a halo orbit, which will be inclined with respect to the ecliptic, have a radius of approximately 800,000 kilometers (500,000 mi), and take about half a year to complete. Since L2 is just an equilibrium point with no gravitational pull, a halo orbit is not an orbit in the usual sense: the spacecraft is actually in orbit around the Sun, and the halo orbit can be thought of as controlled drifting to remain in the vicinity of the L2 point. This requires some station-keeping: around 2–4 m/s per year from the total budget of 150 m/s. Two sets of thrusters constitute the observatory's propulsion system.

              L2 is "metastable", not stable like L4 and L5.

              https://jwst.nasa.gov/realworld_parrish.html [nasa.gov]

              JWST, which orbits around Lagrange Point Two, will carry enough fuel for orbit maintenance. If it should fall out of orbit it could end up being pulled into the orbit of the Sun, or even less likely return to Earth.

              NASA has a disposal requirement at the end of JWST's useful life that ensures the telescope won't be a hazard to human life, or other spacecraft. At the end of its mission we will point it in a direction in which it won't be able to return to Earth and we'll use the remaining fuel to send it that way.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @03:51PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @03:51PM (#606834)

      Damn you. Stop being right. I've gotten into the habit of just modding you down all the time. Dammit, you screwed things up. I've told you before to stop doing that!! Just be your reliable self, and post troll comments, and make my modding chores easier.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 07, @07:59PM (9 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @07:59PM (#606972) Journal

      Probably not going to be feasible with the Webb. So let's get it right the first time, since it will be the only time.

      This illustrates a common problem with NASA projects. The JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) is a one-off, that is, it is one of a kind. That makes it particularly costly, since the considerable R&D costs can only be spread over one vehicle. Similar, it has very high risks associated with launch and deployment since there are no backup vehicles to take its place. My view is that NASA should instead have built multiple space telescopes, each less individually capable than the JWST, but with lower cost per telescope, greater overall scientific output, quicker deployment times (no 23+ year delay from start to launch as with the JWST), less overall risk (you can lose a telescope without losing the entire investment) and greater reliability (you have the opportunity to fix problems in the rest of your telescopes after deploying one).

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Thursday December 07, @08:26PM (7 children)

        by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @08:26PM (#606976) Journal

        It's science, khallow! Not capitalism! Remember, scientia potentia est, as Sir Francis Bacon used to say. Redundant JWTs, you say, because they are cheaper by the dozen, and with six you get egg-rolls? If you can barely get Republicans to fund one new space telescope, and you cannot get them to understand climate change is real, do you think Congress would fund your wacky "risk mitigation through redundancy" scheme? Not likely. Now go and play with your Bitcoin, and leave real science to the real scientists, m'kay?

        --
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        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday December 07, @11:21PM (6 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:21PM (#607037) Journal

          If you can barely get Republicans to fund one new space telescope, and you cannot get them to understand climate change is real, do you think Congress would fund your wacky "risk mitigation through redundancy" scheme?

          Such games are firmly bipartisan. As far as Congress is concerned it's already game over. Most of the costs of the JWST have already occurred with launch being the last big payout. There's not much political value left to JWST except as a sop to voters. With all these delays, it's not much of a sop either. Having it launch successfully and then die in space would be ideal politically since the money is fully consumed and one can start over with another costly round of one-off development.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Thursday December 07, @11:28PM (5 children)

            by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Thursday December 07, @11:28PM (#607043) Journal

            Having it launch successfully and then die in space would be ideal politically since the money is fully consumed and one can start over with another costly round of one-off development.

            Why you so anti-science, khallow? Did you fail an astrophysics class, or something? Or is this the mothership speaking through you?

            --
            If you could ensure that your submissions are balanced, accurate and unbiased, you might stand a better chance
            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday December 08, @05:34AM (4 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @05:34AM (#607102) Journal

              Why you so anti-science, khallow?

              Science isn't a political body throwing money around. NASA space projects have devolved decades ago to US-based wealth redistribution to government bureaucracies and businesses that happens to do something in space as part of the activity. The science or other purposes thus becomes a minor part. That's why the US has only one space telescope and very few other missions active at a time (usually with one mission per identifiable niche). For the money being spent, 18 billion USD a year, one could do vastly more. But it involves at the least understanding the economics of space activities, including economies of scale (these are huge due to the remarkably low frequency of space activities), focused and reused technology development, and avoiding costly areas, like orbital launch where private enterprise already provides an adequate, cheap, reliable answer.

              • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Friday December 08, @08:27PM (3 children)

                by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 08, @08:27PM (#607391) Journal

                Science isn't a political body throwing money around. NASA space projects have devolved decades ago to US-based wealth redistribution to government bureaucracies and businesses that happens to do something in space as part of the activity.

                Aha! This explains why the Space Program of the Nation of Somalia is so much further along than the United States! None of that wasteful government bureaucracy in the Libertarian Paradise!

                --
                If you could ensure that your submissions are balanced, accurate and unbiased, you might stand a better chance
                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday December 09, @06:28AM (2 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 09, @06:28AM (#607637) Journal

                  This explains why the Space Program of the Nation of Somalia is so much further along than the United States! None of that wasteful government bureaucracy in the Libertarian Paradise!

                  When Somalia had a government [wikipedia.org], it was even less capable of a space program than the present.

                  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Saturday December 09, @09:17AM (1 child)

                    by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 09, @09:17AM (#607660) Journal

                    Truly, khallow, your head is so far up your ass that the possibility of rational argument is as remote as a bowel movement that would render you rational. So, what Somalia needs, to have a Space Program that rivals the US and the (former)USSR is even less centralized government than it has now? Is this much like the argument that the only thing keeping libertarians from solving homelessness is all these darn government regulations? khallow, I enjoy our talks, but you are really, really sick, bro!

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                    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday December 09, @10:08AM

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 09, @10:08AM (#607673) Journal

                      Usually, khallow, I would back you up when you say something rational. But this? What is this? Speculation? CIA Agitprop? Donald pump-and-dump on the markets? I cannot tell. And so, I will not comment. Other than to say, as someone allegedly econo-literate, we expected more of you, khallow. Much more.

                      Here. [soylentnews.org]

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday December 07, @08:48PM

        by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday December 07, @08:48PM (#606983) Journal

        Light-gathering power goes up by the square of the aperture increase. So telescopes with an aperture of 1/3 have 1/9 of the light collection. JWST is 6.5 meters, Hubble is 2.4, Spitzer is 0.85. Yet it was Spitzer that discovered most of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets recently, even with roughly 2% of the light collection capability of JWST. So you have a point there. But it's still not satisfying to me.

        What we should try to do is make them big and cheap. JWST is as big as it is because the mirrors fold, allowing it to fit onto current launch vehicles. The proposed HDST [wikipedia.org] would use the same approach. We should continue along those lines but make them out of crappier materials. Maybe plastic with a reflective coating spraypainted on. If the materials deform in space, fly in external corrective optics like Hubble's COSTAR. Fold together hundreds or thousands of mirror segments instead of JWST's 18 or HDST's 54 to target an aperture of 100+ meters instead of 6.5 to 16.8 (ATLAST [wikipedia.org] proposal). You could make it bigger than many ground telescopes by exploiting the microgravity environment of Earth orbit (let's pass on L2 for now and make this a visible/UV telescope with easy servicing capabilities).

        Forgo testing as much as possible. Build five or more of the telescopes and fly them into different Earth orbits so you have the option of targeting certain objects continuously with little or no interruption. And the more telescopes you can build within the budget, the more times you can fail but still have a successful mission. Fly individual telescopes on Falcon 9 or Falcon Heavy to save cash, reusable mode (less thrust) where possible.

        Obviously, this should be a partnership between NASA and ISRO, where the engineers can be made to work 12+ hours a day [wikipedia.org], no problem.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:34PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:34PM (#606885)

    That's a complex contraption that is very different from prior space scopes. I'm afraid it won't unfold properly in space: lots of parts that have to work right for it to unfold correctly, and no shuttle for repairs this time.

    If you want a more predictable schedule & budget, then clone Hubble with only minor changes. Russia keeps things cheap and successful by incrementally improving on existing designs rather than starting over every 7 years or so like the US seems to do.

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