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

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-03-03 15:34:40

The U.S. Government Acountability 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 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