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posted by cmn32480 on Friday July 27 2018, @08:51PM   Printer-friendly
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

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  • (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.

    When the dust settled America realized it was saved by a porn star.
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Saturday July 28 2018, @12:26AM

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {}> on Saturday July 28 2018, @12:26AM (#713885) Journal

    They don't call JWST "the telescope that ate astronomy" [] 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 []. 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 []