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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 09 2022, @11:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the cool! dept.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Successfully Unfolds its Massive Mirror

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope successfully unfolds its massive mirror:

The team behind the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope successfully finished unfolding the instrument's distinctive golden mirror on Saturday, meaning the telescope is now fully deployed and is one step closer to sending back data about the universe's first galaxies.

"The successful completion of all of the Webb Space Telescope's deployments is historic," Webb's program director at NASA Headquarters, Gregory L. Robinson, said in a release. "This is the first time a NASA-led mission has ever attempted to complete a complex sequence to unfold an observatory in space – a remarkable feat for our team, NASA, and the world."

NASA and its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, began remotely unfolding the two wings of Webb's primary mirror on Friday and completed the task at about 10:15 a.m. PT Saturday, when the second wing latched into place.

Over the next six months, Webb is set to travel 1 million miles from Earth and begin sending back images of the universe that promise to serve up a new, unfiltered story of the cosmos. Not only will Webb teach us about hidden regions of space, it also has the power to prove whether we've correctly documented the events that happened right after the Big Bang.

Remarkably, NASA Has Completed Deployment of the Webb Space Telescope

Remarkably, NASA has completed deployment of the Webb space telescope:

But now that ultra complex heat shield is working. The temperature on the Sun-facing side of the telescope is 55 degrees Celsius [(131 °F)], or a very, very, very hot day in the Sahara desert . And already, the science instruments on the back side of the sunshield have cooled to -199 degrees Celsius[(-326.2 °F)], a temperature at which nitrogen is a liquid. They will yet cool further.

Work remains, of course. Webb still must traverse about 370,000 km to reach an orbit around a stable Lagrange point, L2. Scientists and engineers must check out and align the 18 primary mirror segments. Scientific instruments must be calibrated. But all of this work is somewhat more routine when it comes to science spacecraft. There are risks, to be sure, but these are mostly known risks.

We can therefore be reasonably confident now that Webb will, in fact, begin to make science observations this summer. We should, truly, be in awe.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Snotnose on Monday January 10 2022, @12:05AM (8 children)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Monday January 10 2022, @12:05AM (#1211356)

    317 points of critical failure. From a government agency. I gave it a 50/50 chance and am glad to be proved wrong.

    There is still 1 more step. When it gets to L2 it still need to do a braking burn. Which should be like you and me using our turn signals. Which a lot of you don't do.....

    Still, I'm hopeful

    --
    The dishes in the sink are giving me dirty looks again.
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by martyb on Monday January 10 2022, @01:51AM (4 children)

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @01:51AM (#1211370) Journal

      317 points of critical failure. From a government agency. I gave it a 50/50 chance and am glad to be proved wrong.

      I shared your apprehension and I am thrilled, too, to see things go so smoothly!

      There is still 1 more step. When it gets to L2 it still need to do a braking burn. Which should be like you and me using our turn signals. Which a lot of you don't do.....

      My understanding is that JWST is actually coasting "uphill" (i.e. against gravity) so there is no burn planned so as to decelerate. It is designed to stop on its own. A retro-burn, AIUI, would entail a reorientation that would let unacceptable warmth impinge on the instruments that need to be kept at something like 70 kelvin (60 °C above absolute zero). Hence the 5 layers of shielding to block light from the Sun and even reflected from Earth. That is also part of the reason why it is being stationed at L2.

      Still, I'm hopeful

      and so am I =)

      --
      Wit is intellect, dancing.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mhajicek on Monday January 10 2022, @07:26AM (2 children)

        by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:26AM (#1211450)

        As I understand it, it will need to do some minor station keeping. I presume the designers were smart enough to let it thrust in any direction without exposing the instruments to the sun.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 4, Informative) by martyb on Monday January 10 2022, @07:19PM (1 child)

          by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @07:19PM (#1211580) Journal

          I found this Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] to be interesting and helpful.

          --
          Wit is intellect, dancing.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:28PM (#1211522)

        JWST has to burn on arrival to circularize its orbit. I'm not sure if failure means a return to Earth or getting left behind, but it is still a single point of failure.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:52PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:52PM (#1211508)

      So wait... you were wrong. And we're still listening to you?

      Sounds like the same d-bags who predicted Iraq success who then got paid by F** News and C*N to comment on international affairs. And remained wrong. Always wrong.

    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 10 2022, @04:59PM

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday January 10 2022, @04:59PM (#1211534) Homepage
      I was pretty sure most of the rigid mechanical elements would be 4-nines. 300 of those gives you only a <3% failure rate. The non-rigid bits I was less certain about, but still, I'm sure they did a "what could possibly go wrong" brainstorm many times. There's nothing up there to interfere with it - they can simulate the vacuum and the temperature (though I'm not sure they can simulate the temperature *gradient*, I'd love to be proved wrong), so theoretically even the not-sails-despite-what-they-look-like should have been surprise-free in deployment. I wonder what failure percentage they considered acceptable?

      Anyway, I hope the research into a refuelling solution is well under way, 5^H10+ years will come *way* too soon. Sure, they never told you about that, but it would be crazy not to, so I reckon they've got something secret up their sleeve.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:24PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:24PM (#1211625)

      317 points of critical failure.

      That sounds like your posting history. Bitch.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:08AM (75 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:08AM (#1211362)

    It's been multiple failures. Originally slated to cost half a billion, then $4.5 billion, it came in at $9 billion and a decade and a half late - and there's still a billion in ongoing expenses.

    18x the original budget and a decade and a half late is a major failure. If the original budget had been $9 billion, it would never have been approved.

    This whole fiasco is an example of the sunk cost fallacy.

    What science projects were canceled because Webb was a metastatic cancer on the budget that nobody had the guts to take the red pill, see the reality, and axe it? What won't we discover because NASA is crazy stupid with OPM?

    Same as the SLS. Same with the shuttle.

    Maybe time to kill NASA, because it appears nothing else will get rid of the rot. Hopefully the first SLS will blow up and inject some reality into the discussion.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:37AM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:37AM (#1211366)

      No velcro for you then... Even though your attitude seems to indicate you haven't graduated from kiddie sneakers yet.

      • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:14AM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:14AM (#1211394)
        My attitude is simple - accountability. you can't bring in a job on time and on budget , you're fired and sued. Look at Boeing having to redo a launch test on their own dime. THIS should be the norm.

        NASA itself needs the same accountability. Screw up a project - take a look at whether the "new" budget would be better spent elsewhere. Science lost a decade and a half of data from all the astronomy projects that were cancelled because of NASA giving in to the sunk costs fallacy. Too big to fail.

        18x the initial cost means the original proposal was utter bs. You don't reward bullshitters. Otherwise others do the same thing, like happened with the SLS. And before these two, the space shuttle. The original shuttle proposal was 8 ships, fast turn-around, 125 flights per shuttle service life (1,000 flights over the shuttle program). It was quickly obvious that th design sucked, the payload capacity sucked, it would never be a quick turn around, and it's cost per ton to orbit was over an order of magnitude to a Saturn V. 5 launches on Saturn Vs would have orbited the entire ISS. And the Saturn V had a launch cost of $100 million per. The shuttle had a launch cost that went from $1.2 billion to $2 billion at thr end.

        And there wouldn't have needed to be pauses in space flight to develop the shuttle, or after each disaster, or to build another replacement. And no need to buy rides to space off the Russians.'

        That's the cost of lacking backbone when it comes to killing projects that suck.

        You could have had a permanent moonbase by 2005. Maybe earlier. Just by sticking with what works.

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Monday January 10 2022, @01:33PM

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:33PM (#1211482) Journal

          > My attitude is simple

          Too simple.

          > 18x the initial cost means the original proposal was utter bs.

          And where lies the fault for that? You talk as if that's NASA's fault. It's not. It's the fault of Congress critters who have totally unreasonable fantasies about the costs, difficulties, and unknowns of a project of this sort.

          The fate of the Supercollider is instructive. Its costs ballooned in a similar way. Congress kept messing with it, forcing several stoppages that caused a lot of extra cost to mothball and restart. By the time it was all over, failed, they'd blown more money on the stops and starts than it would have taken to just finish the job.

          They also have all kinds of suspicions about waste and pork. And they hypocrites on that, all too ready to add pork that might result in being re-elected. You're adding to the problems, with your crying over a $9 billion cost, while you blithely overlook a lot of far more wasteful expenditures. The defense budget is far, far worse. One, just one, F35 joint strike fighter costs at least $148 million.

          NASA would so like to shut down the ISS, and put the billions it costs to better uses, but the politicians won't hear of that. If you want to stop waste, how about injecting a bit more realism in the current fantasies of sending people to Mars? If you think a space telescope is expensive, people on Mars will be way, way more expensive. It's good to dream of such things, but right now, and for decades at the least, it's simply not feasible. Yeah, maybe we could get a few astronauts to Mars by the end of the decade if we tried really hard, but for what purpose? They would at most be doing only a very short visit. It'd be a publicity stunt. No way we could set them up for the ultimate goal of colonization. Better, much better, to keep sending rovers, for whatever further exploration of Mars that may be fruitful.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:57PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:57PM (#1211510)

          Say it after me: research is different.

          If you were talking about producing units on a production line that already existed, then your arguments are valid(ish) but you're still a dick that nobody will want to do business with. For research, you're asking people to come up with things that are not currently possible. Smart people, who you can't replace and whose achievements will last longer than the ancient memory of $1BILLION DOLLARS of fiat cash money.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:32PM (2 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:32PM (#1211572) Journal

            Say it after me: research is different.

            Not different enough to be relevant.

            then your arguments are valid(ish) but you're still a dick that nobody will want to do business with.

            In other words, we probably shouldn't do business with you, right? They might not want to do business with a demanding customer, but they do want that demanding customer's money. Hence, it happens.

            For research, you're asking people to come up with things that are not currently possible.

            No. Not currently done is not the same as not currently possible.

            Smart people, who you can't replace and whose achievements will last longer than the ancient memory of $1BILLION DOLLARS of fiat cash money.

            Unless, of course, you direct the efforts of those smart people onto a single $10 billion white elephant rather than multiple projects that could have been a lot more achievement. I think you miss the point of accountability.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30PM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30PM (#1211626)

              Unless, of course, you direct the efforts of those smart people onto a single $10 billion white elephant rather than multiple projects that could have been a lot more achievement.

              Your right we could have had more vanity trips to lower orbit with in-flight meals by a renowned chef and full media entertainment package.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:58AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:58AM (#1211673) Journal

                Your right we could have had more vanity trips to lower orbit with in-flight meals by a renowned chef and full media entertainment package.

                I sense you were trying to be sarcastic. But yes, that would be better. Same thing happened with passenger air travel and automobiles. They used to for the rich as well. Now, they've changed the world vastly for the better. Sorry, JWST just isn't going to have that impact ever.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:44AM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:44AM (#1211367)

      I don't think the $500 million budget was ever considered feasible. The real slippage happened later.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:32AM (10 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:32AM (#1211385)

        Given the government funding process, getting a big project started at some low price is about the only way it can be started. Cost overruns are standard procedure.

        We (a very small company) teamed once with two somewhat larger companies to bid on a research tool for DOT (many years ago). We bid what it was going to cost us to do (we'd done similar things before). The winning bid was half the price of ours--from an outfit with no domain expertise...but plenty of gov't bidding expertise. After they won the bid and got started, they quickly went over budget. And in the end it cost the DOT just about what our team had bid. The product didn't work well enough to be of any use--remember, the winner had no domain experience.

        If we'd been more experienced (and were able to grit our teeth and lie), we would have also bid at half the price, with the expectation that we would have to go back for more.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:55AM (9 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:55AM (#1211390)

          As I said, carelessness with OPM (other peoples money). In many fields of endeavour, contractors have to post a bond guaranteeing completion on time and on budget. Cost overruns are raten by the bond company. And the contractor often goes broke or gets sold of by the bond company to recover their losses.

          Takes too long? The client calls in another contractor to finish the job and collects the costs from the bond company, which then goes after the original contractor.

          So contractors have a very strong incentive to not underbid if they are required to submit a bond from an insurance/bonding company because they won't get a kick at the can for extra money aside from extra costs for unforeseen expenses.

          • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:49AM (6 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:49AM (#1211402)

            You can't do a fixed-price contract for an R&D project that has never been done before. There are the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. There are different kinds of contracts for a reason, because you can't shoehorn them into the same thing.

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:51AM (5 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:51AM (#1211417) Journal

              You can't do a fixed-price contract for an R&D project that has never been done before.

              Why not? There's fixed-price contracts for riskier human endeavors like ocean salvage recovery or putting out oil fires.

              The key flaw with this assertion is that just because particular details haven't been done before, we still have that that sort of R&D has been done before.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @05:05AM (4 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @05:05AM (#1211426)

                > There's fixed-price contracts for riskier human endeavors like ocean salvage recovery or putting out oil fires.

                Your examples are relatively short term projects -- either they are successful or they fail, probably in weeks, or months. The bids will be high (relative to the costs incurred) and the bidders make money on average, with some % success rate. For owners that like to live dangerously and gamble, this can make a business.

                R&D projects like the DOT project I mentioned above was a two+ year effort to demonstrate some new technology. The deliverable was a one-off, very little chance of re-using anything and selling to another customer. We (the high bidders, who lost the job) should have gritted our teeth, bid low, (we were told that we had by far the best technical proposal), then created some phony "unknown-unknowns" to go back for the rest of the money that was necessary to do the full job. It's far from ideal, but that seems to be how the R&D game is played in USA.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:33AM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:33AM (#1211437) Journal

                  Your examples are relatively short term projects -- either they are successful or they fail, probably in weeks, or months.

                  The JWST should have been a lot more short term than it was.I wager the lack of fixed-price contracts helped make that considerable delay happen.

                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:37AM (2 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:37AM (#1211468)
                  There are construction projects that take a decade that require bid bonds from the contractors. But let's take something people here are more familiar with - software and hardware development. Projects get axed all the time because they're taking too long or the cost is exploding.

                  Look at Thanatos - 15 years of bullshit and lies for something that was physically impossible. A billion bucks gone. When something is too good to be true, and you see the coats and timeline explode, you kill it before it kills you.

                  Anyone working in a startup in the 90s will remember how many startups turned into money pits that never produced anything. There's a lost opportunity cost in continuing to pursue anything that has gotten out of hand.

                  The space shuttle was pork and fantasy. For the same money as the shuttle and SLS, you could have had a permanent moonbase 15 years ago. That's the opportunity cost of the shuttle, sls,,and webb. How much radio astronomy could gave been done with a radio telescope on the back side of the moon,,with the entire moon shielding it from radio noise from earth?

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:04PM (1 child)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:04PM (#1211514)

                    Let's also talk about the B2 bomber and all the nukes we pay for. Add some zeros. Now, round to 3 decimal places.... huh all the budget problems went away?!

                    • (Score: 2, Funny) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:43PM

                      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:43PM (#1211574) Journal

                      Let's also talk about the B2 bomber and all the nukes we pay for. Add some zeros. Now, round to 3 decimal places.... huh all the budget problems went away?!

                      "Add some zeros". That's a creative accounting move. Great way to scam. It's not a serious way to budget.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:00PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:00PM (#1211512)

            Contractors have to post a bond guaranteeing completion on time and on budget. Cost overruns are raten by the bond company. And the contractor often goes broke or gets sold of by the bond company to recover their losses. Takes too long? The client calls in another contractor to finish the job and collects the costs from the bond company, which then goes after the original contractor.

            Sounds like you like dealing with lawyers, or are a lawyer or an MBA looking for some sweet, sweet middle to manage.

            • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:41PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:41PM (#1211527)

              Real business concerns and what is required to function in a well organized and regulated society (assuming all parties involved are being regulated in manners that favor honesty...)

              If you want a counterexample to this, go read up on the MS Satoshi mess, which involved a bunch of people, also with no domain experience, going and buying a cruise vessel with expired certificates, labelled as a commercial seagoing vessel, then trying to drive it across the ocean to park in Panamanian territorial waters, all without verifying the legality of any step of what they were doing, or the safety of the resulting project, and then having to quit in the 11th hour because the majority of their prospective client base was smart enough to realize it was a bad idea and they didn't know what they were doing.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @01:47AM (33 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:47AM (#1211368) Journal

      Scientia potenia est
      and
      ars gratia artis

      18x the original budget and a decade and a half late is a major failure. If the original budget had been $9 billion, it would never have been approved.

      Yes, but money is nothing. Doesn't really actually exist! A mere social convention. So better if NASA was funded by bitcoin?

      Knowledge of the universe, however, is priceless. That means, worth it no matter what the cost, because money is only money. And, an actual space telescope, no matter how late or over-budget, is much more valuable than all the ones that have not been funded, built, or launched.

      • (Score: 0, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:40AM (11 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:40AM (#1211386)
        And how much knowledge have we lost because of Webb sucking up funding? There's a huge lost opportunity cost here; NASA couldn't stuck to it's new mantra of faster, cheaper, better.

        We'll probably never know. And for what? Administrators who couldn't properly manage a project. Maybe we could have discovered life on Mars by now. Or in the upper clouds of Venus. Or orbited a half dozen Hubbles and had better chances of lioking at the right place at the right time when something weird happens that could change our fundamental understanding of the universe.

        Those are opportunities that are gone.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:17AM (10 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:17AM (#1211407)

          There is no faster, better, cheaper. You only get to pick two of those three.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:42AM (7 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:42AM (#1211441) Journal
            And yet, SpaceX showed us it was possible to get all three. There's something wrong with the narrative.
            • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday January 10 2022, @07:37AM (2 children)

              by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:37AM (#1211454)

              I believe SpaceX should be putting up orbital telescopes on its own dime, as a public relations device. Let universities use them for free, and people might stop complaining so much about Starlink satellites blocking the view. Should be pretty cheap for them.

              --
              The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:55PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:55PM (#1211487)

                They've had the benefit of an awful lot of money that wasn't their own dime too. The narrative and mythology that has developed around them, and particularly Musk, is remarkable. Same with Tesla. Musk greatly complains about all the government money he receives, and he is totally unhappy to take it, but he has to because it is there, and that is why he wants all those EV subsidies to end now (that other companies are using them to establish their own products has nothing to do with that). One big advantage SpaceX has is that it can build the infrastructure and workforce it needs in a very targeted manner whereas the ULA companies have facilities and workforces that have been built up over decades. Starlink has great advantages in that gets to use his monopolistic position to launch them, and he's ignoring the regulators in a great land grab; he'll have established the monopolistic position in space and will be "too big to fail." A great advantage Tesla has over GM and others is that they can generate a quarter of their profits from cryptocurrency market manipulations. Musk acts very similarly to Microsoft of the 90s, but one difference is that Gates didn't have Twitter back then and perhaps if he did, he would have been able to drive his narrative and develop an army of idolators (I recall it being mostly the media that were in love with him back then). The ends are allowed to justify the means for Musk, at least around here, while others have gotten vilified for that.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:48PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:48PM (#1211530) Journal

                  Musk greatly complains about all the government money he receives, and he is totally unhappy to take it, but he has to because it is there, and that is why he wants all those EV subsidies to end now (that other companies are using them to establish their own products has nothing to do with that).

                  You're free to call his bluff and end those subsidies for everyone.

                  One big advantage SpaceX has is that it can build the infrastructure and workforce it needs in a very targeted manner whereas the ULA companies have facilities and workforces that have been built up over decades.

                  Think about why that is an advantage. The ULA facilities and workforces are optimized for extracting public funds not for launching stuff into space.

                  The ends are allowed to justify the means for Musk, at least around here, while others have gotten vilified for that.

                  The means aren't half bad (only real complaints are the quantity of stuff in orbit and that he works people pretty hard) and it results in cheap rockets launching a lot of stuff into orbit. SpaceX is doing. It's not other peoples' money that made that happen.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:38PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:38PM (#1211526)

              SpaceX isn't a Congressional pork project. When pork is the objective then it becomes slower, worse, and more expensive, pick all three. I can say 'worse' here because while the JWST is amazing, it is amazing for twenty year old tech. Had they optimized for faster/better/cheaper then it would have launched fifteen years ago and we'd be on the second or third generation of the technology today.

            • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 10 2022, @05:26PM (2 children)

              by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday January 10 2022, @05:26PM (#1211542) Homepage
              Some of the SpaceX launches for the DoD cost over 20x the going rate.
              --
              Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:01PM (1 child)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:01PM (#1211559) Journal

                Some of the SpaceX launches for the DoD cost over 20x the going rate.

                The DoD would be paying for a lot more than just a launch. They're probably paying for everyone on the launch team to have security clearances, for example, and a higher reliability launch.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:08PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:08PM (#1211792) Journal
                  Come to think of it, SpaceX is probably throwing away the first stage too. You can boost a little more, if you don't reserve propellant for booster reuse.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:06PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:06PM (#1211516)

            There is no faster, better, cheaper. You only get to pick two of those three.

            Bullshit. It's one -- at best.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @03:11AM (16 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @03:11AM (#1211393) Journal

        Knowledge of the universe, however, is priceless. That means, worth it no matter what the cost, because money is only money. And, an actual space telescope, no matter how late or over-budget, is much more valuable than all the ones that have not been funded, built, or launched.

        So why not fund me, say a trillion dollars a year, to do that priceless knowledge? I'm pretty sure, I can find new priceless knowledge with a few million dollars and the rest of that money, which is nothing, can be redirected more productively to the khallow pampering fund, which is something for me.

        The obvious rebuttal to your whole post is opportunity cost. Even if money is nothing, there are research strategies that can give you a whole lot more research than others. When one burns $10 billion on a moderately better telescope, that's a huge loss for all the other research they could have done with the money (including merely spending much less for the JWST and putting the savings in other space research).

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:02AM (11 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:02AM (#1211404)

          Yes, but when you've been senile for 2000 years you can afford to take the long view and just wait for debts to be Zimbabwed into oblivion.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @06:08AM (10 children)

            by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:08AM (#1211431) Journal

            Opportunity cost is a very stupid, Republican neo-liberal economic argument. There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded. Yes, of course, coulda, woulda, if not for the resistance of people who think money is a real thing and is a reflection of their Identity (non-Black), but none of that is true, and khallow has re-ified capital really bad, in the Marxist sense. Which of course he does not understand.

            2400 years, more or less, and with each I am more amazed at the stupidity of the average human conservative. In classical China we called them 小人, small or petty people, only concerned with profit. Egoists, selfish bastards, Americans, or more properly, American Republicans. You may think it is my discernment that is degrading, but rest assured, I have the higher perspective.

            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:49AM (4 children)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:49AM (#1211442) Journal

              Opportunity cost is a very stupid, Republican neo-liberal economic argument.

              It whips your argument soundly - that informs me that your argument was worse than very stupid.

              There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

              "If". There's similarly then no opportunity cost, if nothing besides a little token research and the glorious khallow pampering fund are funded. You have to acknowledge that choice exists first before you can understand the point of opportunity cost. Economics fundamentally is about the value (as we perceive it) of the choices we make. If we refuse to acknowledge such choices, we end up accepting very horrendous decisions like the present course of the JWST.

              • (Score: -1, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @06:56AM (3 children)

                by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:56AM (#1211443) Journal

                Stick to small-scale earth-moving equipment, khallow, it is more your "speed".

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @06:58AM (2 children)

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @06:58AM (#1211444) Journal
                  And yet I'm not the one with the cognitive dissonance and the treadless arguments.
                  • (Score: 0, Troll) by aristarchus on Monday January 10 2022, @08:05AM (1 child)

                    by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 10 2022, @08:05AM (#1211456) Journal

                    Are you so sure? Certainly your backhoes are treadless, at least the ones you offered for rental to me!

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @11:00AM (1 child)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @11:00AM (#1211473)
              There's always an opportunity cost, always has been, in everything humans do. Do we stay in one place, or do we explore beyond the local horizons in the hope of better farmland, a more stable water supply? Do we eat all our corn now or do we save some to plant next year? Do we get an education or go straight into the work force, or do both over a longer period? Do we eat the same diet every day or do we try something different once in a while, maybe finding something new and exciting? Think of the first person to eat lobster, or smoked oysters,,or snails in garlic butter.

              r Every choice has a cost in terms of the road not taken. And that's been true long before the first humans existed. It's why many animals adopted migration and others didn't. Each strategy has benefits and costs. Ask the whales. Not exactly homebodies.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:30PM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:30PM (#1211802) Journal
                There's a lot of stuff that's always been there - platitudes being a great example in your post.

                My point here is not merely to describe something that's "always been" here, but to show that choosing stuff like the present JWST and its development path are deeply suboptimal - even if you're trying to completely ignore economics and purely consider science to have infinite value. By making common sense choices, you can have a lot more science for the same resources and effort expended.

                It's an interesting bit of cognitive dissonance - scientifically inclined people making unscientific choices.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:22PM (2 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:22PM (#1211479)

              There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

              That is a very dishonest argument worthy of a GOP leader.

              I pointed out all the other missions that were canceled because of Webb sucking yp money. That means the money that would have been spent on them went instead to Webb. That also means that the science they would have produced is lost. That lost science is an opportunity cost.

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:12PM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:12PM (#1211517)

                It's a bit fucking rich talking about opportunity costs in a civilization that spent 2000 years trying its hardest to believe in a Mystical Sky God and building golden temples to convince the noobs. Then for about 30 seconds, spent a tiny fraction of the military budget on something else with MASSIVE success (relatively speaking), before creaming off all the money again to pay for golden yachts for the new billionaire Gods.

                • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:56PM

                  by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:56PM (#1211532) Journal

                  It's a bit fucking rich talking about opportunity costs

                  Not at all. The sky god and golden temple stuff is irrelevant.

                  before creaming off all the money again to pay for golden yachts for the new billionaire Gods.

                  You're free to worship whatever you like. I'm not interested.

                  The point here is that if you genuinely think that stuff like JWST is for doing stuff or generating science, then the economic factors, things like opportunity cost, matter a great deal. If you're just making another golden temple and worshiping your own sky god variant, then sure, economics doesn't really matter.

                  So what is it? Is the JWST just a temple launched into space to show how virtuous we are? Or are we using that for a real purpose? If it's the latter, you have to consider the opportunity costs - what $10 billion could have been used for rather than just cheer on another white elephant.

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Mockingbird on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:21AM (3 children)

          by Mockingbird (15239) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @06:21AM (#1211723) Journal

          So why not fund me, say a trillion dollars a year, to do that priceless knowledge? I'm pretty sure, I can find new priceless knowledge with a few million dollars and the rest of that money, which is nothing, can be redirected more productively to the khallow pampering fund, which is something for me.

          There are basic entry level competencies to bid, khallow. I am sorry to inform you, in the opinion of the board, that your past publications on SoylentNews, and elsewhere, do not suggest you are capable of doing priceless knowledge. In fact, it seems you are always after priced knowledge, that would allow you to such up the the ultra rich class. Try Blue Orifice instead.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:50PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @01:50PM (#1211752) Journal

            There are basic entry level competencies to bid

            That box is checked here. I got basic entry level competencies.

            the opinion of the board

            I'm the board. I got this. I just don't have that trillion dollars yet. Why do you hate science?

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:35PM (1 child)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:35PM (#1211806) Journal

            There are basic entry level competencies to bid

            As an aside, ari, you've granted me the game by allowing that some approaches appear more "capable" than others. It's merely a minor detail that approaches with better scientific return over their opportunity costs are more capable.

            • (Score: -1, Troll) by Mockingbird on Thursday January 13 2022, @03:59AM

              by Mockingbird (15239) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 13 2022, @03:59AM (#1212322) Journal

              Ari? We were talking about competencies, khallow. You fail again.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30AM (3 children)

        by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @10:30AM (#1211465)

        Agreed, money is nothing. The main cost is in effort.

        https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/webb/team/index.html [nasa.gov]

        ... 1,000 people in more than 17 countries are developing the James Webb Space Telescope. In project-ese there is a concept of "Standing army cost" i.e. while folks are waiting for the JWST to pass tests/etc they are doing less productive work.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:19PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:19PM (#1211519)

          Put it in more simple terms. At work, there are dozens of employees doing a bunch of busy bullshit. One or two are capable of producing new ideas. Oh sure, everyone thinks they can but almost nobody can. However slowly these people work, that's the maximum rate of idea production at work. You can slow it down (with EDI training, for example, or compulsory progress reports in triplicate to meet the high standards of middle management) but without them 1000 years will pass without progress. Doubt me? Let me introduce history to you.

          • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:59AM

            by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @11:59AM (#1211739)

            Actually that's not really what I meant, although it may be true. Of course, I am one of the productive ones so I am happy to agree (sarcasm).

            Examples of what I really meant:-
            * on an experiment where I worked, we were waiting for some delayed equipment to be built and spent lots of time simulating the real experiment and doing simulated data analysis. It was mostly useless time, we would have been better off if the equipment had arrived on time and we could just do the experiment. (This is something like "standing army costs" in project management jargon).
            * as others have pointed out, JWST is not much of an upgrade (maybe I don't agree). So those 1000 people could have built 10 satellites that were almost as good, or maybe better, in the same time. What would have been the better investment of time?

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:37PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:37PM (#1211807) Journal

            One or two are capable of producing new ideas. Oh sure, everyone thinks they can but almost nobody can.

            A huge thing missing from your cool story, bro, is that you can put your thumb on the scale. One or two might be capable, but you can increase that number by enable and educating more such people. You can also decrease that number by throwing them on a bunch of makework while they wait on the JWST to launch.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:52AM (6 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:52AM (#1211371)

      You act like they're launching all that money into space. Only the raw materials get launched. The money stays here and is recycled through the economy.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:45AM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @02:45AM (#1211389)
        The money could have funded many projects that ot canleled because Webb was a big money pit. The money that could have been spent on those projects would have stayed on earth as well, and id Webb had been killed off when it became obvious it was out of control, we would have already had 15 years of data from those other projects.

        You're acting like the only science possible is from Webb. Astronomy has lost a decade and a half of science in other areas that were originally deemed to be sufficiently worthy to fund, but sunk costs of Webb sunk them.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Frigatebird on Monday January 10 2022, @04:53AM (2 children)

          by Frigatebird (15573) on Monday January 10 2022, @04:53AM (#1211419)

          many projects that ot canleled because Webb

          The NASA basic literacy project, exampla gratia (e.g.). Not sure what Cannoli have to do with it, unless you are making a comparison to Military spending ("Take the cannoli, leave the gun"?)

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Frigatebird on Monday January 10 2022, @06:24AM

            by Frigatebird (15573) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:24AM (#1211435)

            Obviously a Flamebait mod by a cannoliphobe!

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:42AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:42AM (#1211469)
            Fuck off. Wikipedia hasxa list of science missions that were cancelled because of Webb. Or can't you do Wikipedia?
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:23PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:23PM (#1211521)

          > The money could would not have funded many projects... because yachts

          FTFY

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Monday January 10 2022, @04:58PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @04:58PM (#1211533) Journal
        The money amount is a measure of the effort and resources put into JWST. It's not just a number.
    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:00AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @03:00AM (#1211392)

      Yes it is too bad NASA has such a tiny budget we need to bicker about how to use it and consider $9 billion horribly expensive .... meanwhile
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_expensive_stadiums [wikipedia.org]
      https://companiesmarketcap.com/snap/marketcap/ [companiesmarketcap.com]
      https://www.consumerreports.org/epa/should-we-break-our-bottled-water-habit-a5667672175/ [consumerreports.org]

      • (Score: 4, Touché) by captain normal on Monday January 10 2022, @06:09AM

        by captain normal (2205) on Monday January 10 2022, @06:09AM (#1211432)

        You left out the United States Military budget:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

        --
        “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:44PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:44PM (#1211810) Journal
        Throwing more fuel into a stalled engine won't make it go faster.

        There's a deeper problem here than $9 billion being a lot of money. Namely, that NASA is amply funded for the tasks it's supposed to do. Throwing more money into an organization that spends its present funding extremely poorly is a classic good money after bad situation.
    • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Monday January 10 2022, @07:05AM (5 children)

      by MIRV888 (11376) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:05AM (#1211447)

      LMAO. It's less than a single aircraft carrier. Let alone a carrier group.
      We'll be OK. Science for science's sake is a new concept. Not everyone thinks it's worthwhile.
      I do.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:48AM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @10:48AM (#1211470)
        Science for science's sake is definitely not a new concept. Just look at ancient astronomy. Done with the naked eye, it's still science. How do you think we know of supernovae that were visible over 1,000 years ago? People were observing the sky back then, had maps of the stars, and saw something new that wasn't on the maps. They also saw planets. And they developed theories.,It's how we eventually figured out the earth wasn't the center of the universe - long before NASA.
        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:28PM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @01:28PM (#1211481)
          Aristarchus of Samos figured out that the earth and the other planets revolved around the sun, the moon revolved around the earth, and the stars were other suns too far away to see as anything but dots in the sky. Naked eye astronomy and math. There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

          People have always asked "why" and "how." Science isn't some new invention from the last 100 years.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:31PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:31PM (#1211523)

            > Science isn't some new invention from the last 100 years.

            No, but it's run by MBA's now so it's all about the unit cost and giving the workers a CEO-like figure to idolize. Musk! Musk! Take us to Mars, baby!

            • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:13PM

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @05:13PM (#1211817) Journal

              a CEO-like figure to idolize

              Funny what people see. They're presently launching over 300 metric tons (mt) to orbit (in 2021). That's well over two SLS Block 2 cargo launches to LEO (~130 mt each) or Saturn V launches (140 mt each).

              So we could choose to see some personality cult or we could choose to see people actually doing important stuff in space.

              I heard that when Musk was first hiring people for SpaceX he sold those employees with the idea that his company would bend metal and launch stuff. He's delivered on that. My take is that's why he has loyal employees, not the woo of personality cult.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:50PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday January 11 2022, @04:50PM (#1211811) Journal

            There is no opportunity cost, if nothing besides JWST was funded.

            But there is opportunity cost because your "if" condition failed. There was plenty that could be funded besides the JWST. For a limited example, several JWST could have been funded with that money. If the scientific output from one is valuable, surely more would be more valuable, right? And there's plenty of other science that could be funded instead of additional JWST.

            It's not right to accept the weak performance of NASA here.

    • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Monday January 10 2022, @07:30AM

      by mhajicek (51) on Monday January 10 2022, @07:30AM (#1211452)

      I understand your viewpoint, but at least we're (very likely at this point) getting something useful for all that money, that should continue to be useful for at least a decade. SLS, on the other hand, will do nothing that Starship won't do much cheaper. And each one will be thrown away after a single use.

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
    • (Score: 2) by crafoo on Monday January 10 2022, @01:39PM (3 children)

      by crafoo (6639) on Monday January 10 2022, @01:39PM (#1211484)

      Sir, sir, you're getting excited. Let me remind you government agencies never fail and they never make mistakes. They may lose favor and funding, but we would never, ever allow them to be dismantled. Admitting fault is what government contractors are for, not the agency itself, you silly bullfrog.

      Anyway, I'm excited by what we may find as the James Webb looks back in cosmological time. It's going to be pretty cool. I'd totally OK with cutting the welfare state and sending all funding to science missions. But, I'm in the minority. The majority still thinks voting themselves "free money" for their bastard kids' carb & weed habits is our nation's top priority.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:34PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:34PM (#1211524)

        > I'd totally OK with cutting the welfare state and sending all funding to science missions.

        Ummmm, how about raising tax on the yachting class? Or is that precious resource too valuable?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:37PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 10 2022, @04:37PM (#1211525)

        Why not also cut the education budget to spend on space missions.... wait, where have all the smart weed+carb consuming kids gone who made that shit possible? Lazy sonsofbitches, bah! Cut my taxes.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by cmdrklarg on Monday January 10 2022, @07:25PM

        by cmdrklarg (5048) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @07:25PM (#1211581)

        I'd totally OK with cutting the welfare state and sending all funding to science missions.

        Agreed. I'm all for ending corporate welfare. Corporations with billions in cash don't need handouts.

        But, I'm in the minority. The majority still thinks voting themselves "free money" for their bastard kids' carb & weed habits is our nation's top priority.

        Ohhh... that welfare. Yeah, let's cut it all, how dare that welfare queen get anything she didn't earn! Oh, and fuck those 100 other poor bastards that will starve when we cut them off too. We'll just throw them in jail (which costs WAY more than they'd get from welfare) when they turn to crime to survive. Great idea!

        --
        Answer now is don't give in; aim for a new tomorrow.
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday January 10 2022, @05:11PM

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Monday January 10 2022, @05:11PM (#1211537) Homepage
      Nobody ever said it could be done for half a billion, that estimate *predates* any cost study, and therefore is not something you can compare to. The first actual formal estimate was about 1.5 billion IIRC, which, considering prior cost studies had estimated the same task to cost 4 billion, seemed like a bargain. OK, it seems those 80s estimates were more accurate, but you should always expect lowballing in a competitive pork market.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by inertnet on Monday January 10 2022, @10:56AM (2 children)

    by inertnet (4071) Subscriber Badge on Monday January 10 2022, @10:56AM (#1211471) Journal

    I was wondering if communication with JWST will regularly be blocked by the moon, because the sun, earth, moon and JWST will be aligned about once a month. I couldn't find a quick answer.

    • (Score: 1) by surjeon on Monday January 10 2022, @02:41PM (1 child)

      by surjeon (9954) on Monday January 10 2022, @02:41PM (#1211492)

      My understanding was that its orbit around L2 is about the same size as the moon's orbit around the earth. By comparison the moon is very small. I've not looked carefully enough to determine if it's possible for the moon to ever get in the way, but it's certainly not a regular occurrence as Webb and the moon would have to be at very particular phase.

(1)