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posted by janrinok on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the challenges dept.

Remember the JWST? Yup:

NASA has again delayed the launch of its next-generation space observatory, known as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the space agency announced today. The telescope now has a new launch date of March 30th, 2021. It's the second delay to the project's timeline this year, and the third in the last nine months.

"We're all disappointed that the culmination of Webb and its launch is taking longer than expected, but we're creating something new here. We're dealing with cutting edge technology to perform an unprecedented mission, and I know that our teams are working hard and will successfully overcome the challenges," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video statement. "In space we always have to look at the long term, and sometimes the complexities of our missions don't come together as soon as we wish. But we learn, we move ahead, and ultimately we succeed."

NASA pushed the launch of JWST, which is viewed as a more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, from 2019 to 2020 in March of this year. At the same time the space agency also convened an independent review board to assess the future of the project, which is running the risk of blowing by an $8 billion cost cap set by NASA in 2011. Going beyond that cost cap would mean that Congress has to reauthorize the program.

The NYT also reports an increase in mission cost (archive), which could have a negative impact on WFIRST or other missions:

NASA announced on Wednesday that the James Webb Space Telescope, once scheduled to be launched into orbit around the sun this fall, will take three more years and another billion dollars to complete. A report delivered to NASA by an independent review board estimated that the cost of the troubled Webb telescope would now be $9.66 billion, and that it would not be ready to launch until March 30, 2021.

[...] The new report means that NASA will surely need another $837 million and exceed that cap. Congress will have to reauthorize the telescope at a cost yet to be determined to other missions. Among the missions that could be threatened, astronomers say, is an ambitious space telescope called WFirst to study dark energy and hunt exoplanets.

The positive spin on this is that there will be more targets for it to look at (such as exoplanets and solar system objects) by the time it becomes operational.

Also at NASASpaceFlight and Engadget.

I need new ways to write this headline:

Previously: Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST
GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap
NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members
Screws and Washers Have Fallen Off JWST Amid Testing and Independent Review
House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted


Original Submission

Related Stories

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

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.


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed 33 comments

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

JWST: Too Big to Fail? 85 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), an infrared space observatory with an $8.8 billion budget, will be transported to South America to launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket, presumably in Spring 2019. The JWST was not intended to be serviceable at the Earth-Sun L2 point. Will there still be a "Golden Age of astronomy" even if the JWST fails?

[Due] to its steadily escalating cost and continually delayed send-off (which recently slipped from 2018 to 2019), this telescopic time machine is now under increasingly intense congressional scrutiny. To help satisfy any doubts about JWST's status, the project is headed for an independent review as soon as January 2018, advised NASA's science chief Thomas Zurbuchen during an early December congressional hearing. Pressed by legislators about whether JWST will actually launch as presently planned in spring of 2019, he said, "at this moment in time, with the information that I have, I believe it's achievable."

[...] Simply launching JWST is fraught with peril, not to mention unfurling its delicate sunshield and vast, segmented mirror in deep space. Just waving goodbye to JWST atop its booster will be a nail-biter. "The truth is, every single rocket launch off of planet Earth is risky. The good news is that the Ariane 5 has a spectacular record," says former astronaut John Grunsfeld, a repeat "Hubble hugger" who made three space-shuttle visits to low-Earth orbit to renovate that iconic facility. Now scientist emeritus at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, he sees an on-duty JWST as cranking out science "beyond all of our expectations."

"Assuming we make it to the injection trajectory to Earth-Sun L2, of course the next most risky thing is deploying the telescope. And unlike Hubble we can't go out and fix it. Not even a robot can go out and fix it. So we're taking a great risk, but for great reward," Grunsfeld says.

Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST 16 comments

A Trump administration budget proposal would cancel NASA's flagship-class Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) as well as several Earth science related telescopes, as it focuses on the Space Launch System, Orion, and sending astronauts to an orbital space station around the Moon:

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal for fiscal year 2019 and put dozens of federal programs on the chopping block, including a brand-new NASA space telescope that scientists say would provide the biggest picture of the universe yet, with the same sparkling clarity as the Hubble Space Telescope. The proposal, released Monday, recommends eliminating the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), citing "higher priorities" at NASA and the cost of the new telescope.

"Given competing priorities at NASA, and budget constraints, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration," the proposal states. "The budget proposes to terminate WFIRST and redirect existing funds to other priorities of the science community, including completed astrophysics missions and research."

Although the Trump administration wants to end funding of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, it envisions private companies picking up the slack:

"The decision to end direct federal support for the ISS in 2025 does not imply that the platform itself will be deorbited at that time — it is possible that industry could continue to operate certain elements or capabilities of the ISS as part of a future commercial platform," according to a draft summary of NASA's ISS Transition Report required by Congress in the agency's 2017 Authorization Act.

GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again) 16 comments

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO) has warned that the launch of James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is likely to be delayed again, which could cause the budget cap set by the U.S. Congress to be exceeded:

The U.S. Government Acountability [sic] Office (GAO), a non-partisan group that investigates federal spending and performance, has issued a report on the James Webb Space Telescope that has astronomers worried. "It's likely the launch date will be delayed again," the report concludes — an ominous statement, given that any further delays could risk project cancellation.

Last year NASA announced a delay in the telescope's launch to sometime between March and June 2019. The 5- to 8-month delay came from problems integrating spacecraft components, especially its complex, five-layered sunshield, which must unfold perfectly when the telescope is deployed. Right after requesting the change in launch readiness date, the mission learned of further delays from its contractor, Northrum Grumman, due to "lessons learned from conducting deployment exercises of the spacecraft element and sunshield."

The mission now has 1.5 months of schedule reserve remaining, the GAO finds. Delays during integration and testing are common, "the phase in development where problems are most likely to be found and schedules tend to slip." The project has a total of five phases of integration and testing, and has made significant progress on phases three and four, with the fifth phase beginning in July.

GAO's 31-page report, February 2018: JWST: Integration and Test Challenges Have Delayed Launch and Threaten to Push Costs Over Cap.

Also at Science Magazine.

Previously: Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Could be Further Delayed

Related: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
NASA Considering Flagship Space Telescope Options for the 2030s
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST


Original Submission

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap 33 comments

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been delayed yet again, due to damage to the spacecraft's thrusters, sunshield, and tension cables:

The slip is not exactly surprising, even though construction and testing of Webb's primary mirror and scientific instruments—its riskiest, most expensive elements—is already complete. These components were delivered in early February to Webb's prime contractor, the aerospace company Northrop Grumman, for further testing and integration with the rest of the telescope. But later that month a report from the Government Accountability Office warned that the company had fallen behind schedule on the supposedly easier parts of the observatory. Valves on the spacecraft's thrusters had sprung leaks after being improperly cleaned, and replacing them had taken the better part of a year. Webb's tennis-court-sized, five-layered folding "sunshield" had also been torn during a test as it unfurled, requiring time-consuming failure analyses and repairs.

NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members 3 comments

NASA announces James Webb Space Telescope Independent Review Board members

NASA recently announced the formation of an external Independent Review Board for the space agency's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The board will study a variety of factors impacting the mission's success and reinforce NASA's strategy for completing the observatory's final integration and testing phase, launch phase and commissioning.

"We are exploring every aspect of Webb's final testing and integration to ensure a successful mission, delivering on its scientific promise," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a NASA news release. "This board's input will provide a higher level of confidence in the estimated time needed to successfully complete the highly complex tasks ahead before NASA defines a specific launch time frame."

According to NASA, the board includes individuals with expertise and experience in program management, schedule and cost management, systems engineering and the integration and testing of large and complex space systems, science instrumentation, unique flight hardware and missions with science objectives similar to Webb.

[...] According to NASA, the members of the Independent Review Board are:

Screws and Washers Have Fallen Off JWST Amid Testing and Independent Review 32 comments

JWST suffers new problem during spacecraft testing

In a presentation at a meeting of the National Academies' Space Studies Board here May 3, Greg Robinson, the JWST program director at NASA Headquarters, said some "screws and washers" appear to have come off the spacecraft during recent environmental testing at a Northrop Grumman facility in Southern California. Technicians found the items after the spacecraft element of JWST, which includes the bus and sunshield but not its optics and instruments, was moved last weekend from one chamber for acoustics tests to another to prepare for vibration testing.

"Right now we believe that all of this hardware — we're talking screws and washers here — come from the sunshield cover," he said. "We're looking at what this really means and what is the recovery plan." The problem, he said, was only a couple of days old, and he had few additional details about the problem. "It's not terrible news, but it's not good news, either," he said. The incident, Robinson argued, showed the importance of the wide range of tests the spacecraft is put through prior to launch. "That's why we do the testing," he said. "We do it now, we find it now, we fix it and we launch a good spacecraft."

This latest incident comes as an independent review board, chartered by NASA in late March after announcing a one-year delay in JWST's launch because of other technical issues, is in the midst of its analysis of the mission and its launch readiness. That review, led by retired aerospace executive and former NASA Goddard director Tom Young, is scheduled to be completed at the end of the month.

NASA is expected to brief Congress on the status of the James Webb Space Telescope in late June.

Also at Popular Mechanics.

Previously: James Webb Space Telescope Vibration Testing Completed
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to Spring 2019
JWST: Too Big to Fail?
GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap
NASA Announces JWST Independent Review Board Members

Related: Northrop Grumman's Faulty Payload Adapter Reportedly Responsible for "Zuma" Failure


Original Submission

House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted 15 comments

House spending bill offers $21.5 billion for NASA in 2019

A House appropriations bill released May 8 offers more than $21.5 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2019, a significant increase over both what the agency received in 2018 and what the White House proposed for 2019.

While there is no mention of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) or the possibility of raising the James Webb Space Telescope's $8 billion spending cap, there is plenty of money for a Europa mission (a favorite of Rep. John Culberson) and continued development of the Space Launch System (SLS):

The bill, though, does specify funding for some programs. It calls for spending $545 million on the Europa Clipper mission and $195 million for a follow-on lander. NASA requested only $264.7 million for Europa Clipper and nothing for the lander. NASA said in the budget proposal it was seeking to launch Europa Clipper in 2025 on a commercial vehicle, while the bill calls for the use of the Space Launch System and a launch by 2022. In its budget proposal, NASA estimated needing $565 million in 2019 to keep Europa Clipper on track for a 2022 launch but warned of "potential impacts to the rest of the Science portfolio" if funded at that level.

The bill includes $1.35 billion for Orion and $2.15 billion for SLS, the same funding those exploration programs received in 2018. NASA requested slightly less for each: $1.164 billion for Orion and $2.078 billion for SLS. The bill fully funds the administration's request for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, at $504 million in 2019.

WFIRST was given $150 million in a 2018 omnibus spending bill, staving off its possible cancellation, but its future may still be in peril due to JWST delays:

Congress, in the 2018 omnibus spending bill, provided $150 million for WFIRST, which many interpreted as a rebuke to the administration's proposal even though Congress had yet to take up the 2019 budget. However, Congress passed the 2018 omnibus spending bill just days before NASA revealed another delay, and potential cost overrun, for JWST, complicating the future of WFIRST.

As with PACE, work on WFIRST is continuing for 2018 as the appropriations process for 2019 plays out in Congress. The mission's next major review, for Key Decision Point B, is scheduled for May 22, which will allow it go into Phase B of its development.

"We were funded fully through FY '18," said Jeff Kruk, WFIRST project scientist, at the Space Studies Board meeting May 3. "We have to be ready to proceed should Congress decide to continue funding the mission. The only way we will meet the cost cap is if we stay on schedule."


Original Submission

NASA Administrator at House Hearing: WFIRST Could be Delayed to Help Pay for JWST 13 comments

At a two-part hearing discussing the future of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine proposed reducing the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope's (WFIRST) budget by about a third in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to help fund the cost-overrun JWST:

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said July 25 that, in order to address the delays and cost overruns with the James Webb Space Telescope, the agency may seek to slow down development of another flagship astrophysics mission.

Testifying before the House Science Committee in the first half of a two-part hearing on JWST, Bridenstine suggested that slowing down work on the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) until after JWST is launched could be a way to deal with JWST's increased cost while maintaining a "balanced portfolio" of large and small astrophysics programs.

"The idea of WFIRST presumed that JWST would be on orbit and delivering science," he said. "So it is my recommendation that we move forward with WFIRST after we move forward with JWST."

"It is true we can do some development now. I'm not saying that we need to shut down WFIRST, and we shouldn't do it," he added. "What I'm saying is there's opportunity here."

The second part of the hearing will involve questioning of Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush on the 26th.

See also: NASA's next great space telescope is stuck on Earth after screwy errors

Previously: WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST
House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion


Original Submission

WFIRST Approved for Development by NASA Despite Possible Cancellation 10 comments

WFIRST, proposed for cancellation, is approved for development

NASA has approved a major astrophysics mission to go into the next phase of its development even as the administration seeks once again to cancel it.

NASA announced March 2 that the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) has passed a review known as Key Decision Point C, which confirms development plans for the mission and allows it to move into full-scale hardware production and testing.

That milestone is when the agency also sets a baseline cost and schedule commitment for the mission. NASA said in its statement about the review that the mission would cost $3.2 billion through its launch, a cost cap previously set by NASA. The cost when including five years of science operations, as well as a coronagraph instrument deemed a technology demonstration by NASA, increases to $3.934 billion.

However, NASA did not announce a launch date for the mission because its fiscal year 2021 budget request proposes to cancel WFIRST. "The Administration is not ready to proceed with another multi-billion-dollar telescope until Webb has been successfully launched and deployed," NASA said in its statement, a reference to the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch in March 2021. NASA used the same statement in its 2021 budget request to explain why it sought no funding for the mission.

Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

Previously:
WFIRST Space Observatory Could be Scaled Back Due to Costs
Trump Administration Budget Proposal Would Cancel WFIRST
NASA Gets Money it Didn't Ask for to Fund Second SLS Mobile Launcher; WFIRST Mission Receives Funds
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion
NASA Administrator at House Hearing: WFIRST Could be Delayed to Help Pay for JWST


Original Submission

The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's Next Great Observatory, Passes Final Ground Tests 13 comments

The James Webb Space Telescope, NASA's next great observatory, passes final ground tests:

NASA and its partners working on the James Webb Space Telescope have completed their final tests of the giant observatory and are now preparing it for a trip to a South American spaceport for a launch later this year.

Conceived more than 30 years ago as a successor of the then new Hubble Space Telescope, James Webb will be the largest observatory ever to be put in orbit. It is designed to use its infrared eyes to peer further into the universe's history than ever before. With its 6.5-meter in diameter gold-plated mirror, the telescope will attempt to answer questions about the formation of first stars and galaxies out of the darkness of the early universe.

At 44 feet (13.2 meters) long and 14 feet (4.2 m) wide, the telescope is about the size of a large tractor-trailer truck, fitted with intricate sun shades that could cover a tennis court once unfolded.

The program faced many delays, not just due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but seems finally on track to start producing ground-breaking astronomical observations. The testing, which took place at the facilities of prime contractor Northrop Grumman in California, made sure that nothing would go wrong with the more than $10 billion spacecraft during launch and once in space.

"NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has reached a major turning point on its path toward launch with the completion of final observatory integration and testing," Gregory Robinson, Webb's program director at NASA headquarters in Washington, said in a statement. "We have a tremendously dedicated workforce who brought us to the finish line, and we are very excited to see that Webb is ready for launch and will soon be on that science journey."


Original Submission

JWST Launch Christmas Morning 55 comments

James Webb Space Telescope reaches launch pad for Christmas liftoff

The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch on Saturday (Dec. 25) during a 32-minute window that opens at 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT). The massive observatory will blast off from Kourou, French Guiana, atop an Ariane 5 rocket operated by European launch provider Arianespace. You can watch launch coverage live at Space.com beginning at 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) courtesy of NASA or you can watch directly at the agency's website.

ESA launch kit (PDF).

Previously:


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:29PM (2 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:29PM (#699836) Journal

    At this cost and after this delay you have to wonder what making a second one would cost.
    If the tooling is still active, the actual cost of building a second may be way less than expected.

    (That's how we ended up with TWO Spirit Rovers on mars.)

    Its getting so expensive, nobody will want to launch it, on the off chance the rocket goes boom.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday June 28 2018, @06:05PM (1 child)

      by bob_super (1357) on Thursday June 28 2018, @06:05PM (#699916)

      > Its getting so expensive, nobody will want to launch it, on the off chance the rocket goes boom.

      Ariane V was set to launch it even when the $5B cost made it impossible to insure. $10B doesn't make a difference at this point. Launch is free already.

      You put the one-of-a-kind thing on the most reliable launcher which can handle the mission, and head to $church and $pray. That's pretty much SOP in that realm. You just hope that fewer people are praying that it goes boom before their part of the design gets a chance to fail.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @11:32PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @11:32PM (#700022)

        before their part of the design

        The thing I miss the least about the aerospace industry. Too many late night/early morning puke sessions.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:33PM (2 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:33PM (#699842)

    It's becoming increasingly obvious NASA can't do this kind of thing anymore. Maybe the way forward is to cancel the program and sell what they have to private investors. I can picture Elon putting a fake eyepiece on it and launching it with another mannikin looking through it.

    Probably won't happen though. I may be a lowly software engineer but even I understand the differences in skill sets between big-ass rockets and big-ass telescopes.

    --
    The Word Of the Day (WOD) is finicky. As in, "sharks avoid the sewage discharge pipe because they make their finicky".
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:39PM (#699846)

    What'll happen first? Star Citizen releasing or JWST launching?

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:53PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @03:53PM (#699854)

    The LHC cost $4.75 to build. Finding the Higgs Boson brought that up to $13B.
    The ISS cost ~$100B.
    The Panama canal was $16B.
    Hoover dam $0.8B
    Apollo program ~$120B.
    NASA annual budget $20.7B
    Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station $13.5B

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by Gaaark on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:33PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:33PM (#699876) Journal

      Condoms: $12.00ish
      Pulling out: priceless

      --
      --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Thursday June 28 2018, @05:09PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday June 28 2018, @05:09PM (#699898) Journal

      From its original total cost estimate of about US$400 million, the telescope cost about US$4.7 billion by the time of its launch. Hubble's cumulative costs were estimated to be about US$10 billion in 2010, twenty years after launch.

      (I assume that takes into account the expensive Space Shuttle servicing missions and then some light operational costs. It would be funny if JWST's ultimate cost came under Hubble's, but it seems completely impossible at this point.)

      I'd argue that the Hubble's discoveries (continuing to this day) have been more important than finding the Higgs and other fast-decaying particles. And many of its discoveries have had implications for physics (nailing down the age of the universe, determining that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, finding black holes at the center of galaxies, affirming the cosmological principle with the Hubble Deep Fields, etc.).

      JWST improves on Hubble in several ways, but it's likely to have a much shorter lifetime than Hubble.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:01PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:01PM (#699859)

    What is the reason for the delays? Wikipedia even has an entire section on it that explains nothing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Webb_Space_Telescope#Cost_and_schedule_issues [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:04PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:04PM (#699861)

      Searching more:

      The latest snags stemmed from a variety of human errors, technical problems and even "excessive optimism," said Tom Young, chair of the Independent Review Board.

      "The complexity and risk cannot be overstated or overestimated," he told reporters in a conference call.

      NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a video message that the telescope "is going to do amazing things, things we've never been able to do before as we hear from other galaxies, and see light from the very dawn of time."

      https://www.firstpost.com/tech/science/human-technical-errors-cause-fresh-delay-in-launch-of-james-webb-telescope-4618051.html [firstpost.com]

      This sounds like a scam.

      • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:09PM

        by Snotnose (1623) on Thursday June 28 2018, @04:09PM (#699865)

        "excessive optimism" == "Oh shit, if we tell them what it's really gonna cost and how long it will take there's no way we'll get our wheelbarrows full of money".

        --
        The Word Of the Day (WOD) is finicky. As in, "sharks avoid the sewage discharge pipe because they make their finicky".
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Thursday June 28 2018, @05:13PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday June 28 2018, @05:13PM (#699903) Journal

      Just recently, there was this:

      Screws and Washers Have Fallen Off JWST Amid Testing and Independent Review [soylentnews.org]

      and before that:

      Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap [soylentnews.org]

      Valves on the spacecraft's thrusters had sprung leaks after being improperly cleaned, and replacing them had taken the better part of a year. Webb's tennis-court-sized, five-layered folding "sunshield" had also been torn during a test as it unfurled, requiring time-consuming failure analyses and repairs.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @07:07PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @07:07PM (#699940)

        There is new info on the screws:

        The fasteners came loose during an acoustic test that simulated the conditions Webb will encounter during launch on a European Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana.

        Some of the fastener hardware, which comprised items such as washers and screws, still has not been found on the spacecraft or in Northrop Grumman’s test facility in Redondo Beach, California.

        Link [spaceflightnow.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @08:44PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @08:44PM (#699970)

      Ultimately? It's a cost-plus contract.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @11:35PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 28 2018, @11:35PM (#700024)

        +11 insightful

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