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posted by cmn32480 on Friday July 27 2018, @08:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the finding-space-in-the-budget dept.

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

Related Stories

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

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.

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

Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed Again, This Time to March 2021, Cost at $9.66 Billion 17 comments

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.

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

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: 3, Interesting) by bob_super on Friday July 27 2018, @09:01PM (5 children)

    by bob_super (1357) on Friday July 27 2018, @09:01PM (#713830)

    Can we just stop bombing brown people for a couple weeks, and transfer those savings to avoid delaying the betterment of scientific knowledge ?
    /rethorical

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:36PM (#713842)

      The Welfare state needs to go.

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Friday July 27 2018, @09:37PM

      by Bot (3902) on Friday July 27 2018, @09:37PM (#713844) Journal

      >/rethorical

      You summoned the grammar nazis. Rub the hammer and sickle three times to make them go away.

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      Account abandoned.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:48PM (#713849)

      Look at the history of this project, it will never launch. Noone will be responsible for its failure, literally failure is not an option.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @11:31PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @11:31PM (#713876)

      In living memory, just barely, the United States has bombed or fought against multiple European countries, and several Asian countries, in more than one war. Those conflicts, like the present one, have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with the behavior of the people being bombed. Repeated attacks with the goal of mass killings of Americans isn't going to be acceptable regardless of the color of the nationals involved be they European or Arab. I will also point out, since you are apparently ignorant of the fact, than many Americans are non-white, and are fully accepted members of American society. Take the race baiting elsewhere.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28 2018, @11:25AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28 2018, @11:25AM (#713969)

      The Welfare state needs to go.

  • (Score: 2) by suburbanitemediocrity on Friday July 27 2018, @09:09PM (1 child)

    by suburbanitemediocrity (6844) on Friday July 27 2018, @09:09PM (#713834)

    They didn't put all their eggs in one basket, they put the whole hen house in.

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Friday July 27 2018, @09:40PM

      by Bot (3902) on Friday July 27 2018, @09:40PM (#713847) Journal

      Speaking of poultry, they could redirect the existing scopes to the beaches, targeting chicks, for a fee. Budget problem solved.

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      Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 27 2018, @09:14PM (#713836)

    Obama really blew that one.

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Bot on Friday July 27 2018, @09:31PM

    by Bot (3902) on Friday July 27 2018, @09:31PM (#713841) Journal

    WFIRST POST!

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    Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Friday July 27 2018, @11:21PM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Friday July 27 2018, @11:21PM (#713874)

    Penalize a project that AFAIK is pretty much on schedule, to reward a major fiasco? The JWST will be a fantastic instrument if it ever makes it to orbit and works, but penalizing other people for another projects fuckups? Doesn't sit well.

    CSB time

    When I was 21 I got a job as an electronics tech at one of the first companies to use microprocessors for military test equipment (think 1979 era). We were on constant overtime for a good 6 months, demand was huge, we were busting our asses to ship units. Our system had something like an S-100 bus (not S-100, more specialized) where we plugged in various boards for various customer needs. We got a shipment of bad boards, they flat out didn't work and we couldn't fix them in time to meet schedule. The VP of our department (Mike) told us to ship them anyway. We said they don't work and would come back. He said that was a future problem, he was solving a now problem. So, being naive and surrounded by other 20 year old naive people, we shipped known bad boards. Our quarter was great, I'm sure our VP got a nice bonus, we got bumpkis.

    Fast forward 6 months. Went out for drinks after work, the VP of QA (Doug) joined us. Seems a bunch of boards were coming back under warranty (we knew, we fixed them), he didn't know why so many boards were failing in the field. We told him the story of Mike ordering us to ship known bad boards 6 months ago. Turns out warranty returns caused a hit on QA's bottom line. Dunno what happened, but a couple weeks later went out drinking with Doug again and he said he couldn't do anything. The CEO was friends with Mike, Doug didn't particularly like either of them, and the fact that I and my co-workers had declared the boards good because we stamped the paperwork meant the boards worked when they left the factory.

    Didn't help we all saw Mike as a slimy used car salesman type that couldn't be bothered to join us plebes for drinks, while Doug was a stand up guy we all respected and liked. Mike got his bonus, Doug got screwed.

    My first introduction to corporate politics.

    --
    I fondly remember the day I made sandcastles with my grandmother. Just wish I hadn't done it in the crematorium.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Saturday July 28 2018, @12:26AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Saturday July 28 2018, @12:26AM (#713885) Journal

      They don't call JWST "the telescope that ate astronomy" [nature.com] for nothing.

      JWST is too big to fail, too important to fail. Not only is it far behind schedule and over budget, but the little things that could go wrong with it total in the hundreds [spaceref.com]. And it's not designed for repair (even though you'd think some university somewhere would go ahead and design an all-purpose repair robot given the high stakes).

      The good thing about this mess is that it's going to force a rethink of future space telescopes. Big and cheap launched on BFR, repairable by robot spacecraft, connected with human activities like the LOP-G for easy human repair, modular with multiple launches, swarms of telescopes working together, telescopes built in space, etc. Plenty of fresh ideas out there for making sure we don't suffer another $10 billion telescope (unless we choose to).

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 1) by Coward, Anonymous on Friday July 27 2018, @11:45PM

    by Coward, Anonymous (7017) on Friday July 27 2018, @11:45PM (#713878) Journal

    They should have hired an umbrella maker for the sun shade instead of Northrup Grumman. This thing [youtu.be] is easily big enough, and for a few billion dollars, they could add more layers while making it lighter.

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