20 thoughts on “The JWST”

  1. Great day, this project is a train wreck. NASA is only 70 percent confident they will meet the new May 2020 date, yet the very next paragraph states …”it will take all the time it needs to get JWST right”

    I realize that this situation is not entirely NASA’s fault. With that many billions of dollars to spread around, Congress can’t help themselves, but nobody is being held accountable, nor does it look like anyone is trying to hold anyone accountable.

    Pull the plug on this thing now.

  2. For what we’ve spent on this program

    Or build a fair number of Hubble Telescope duplicates. It’s amazing how low expectations are for these sorts of projects.

    1. “Or build a fair number of Hubble Telescope duplicates.”

      Except that would be pointless. It’s the HIGH expectations for these big projects that lead to cost and schedule overruns as they try to exceed the performance of the last generation by an order of magnitude. (also see any leading edge military project)

  3. NASA has a consistently bad track record when it comes to managing big budget projects. It’s hard to find a single example of one that came in both on time and on budget. The opportunity costs are very high as other worthwhile projects never have an opportunity to exist or have their budgets cannibalized due to funds being sucked up by the bad boys.

    1. Yeah, well NASA’s goal isn’t to produce anything, but rather continue to keep its employees and contractors paid. It is social welfare for STEM.

    1. Design life =/= expected life. The Chandra X-ray Observatory (NG’s last great observatory) also had a 5 year design life and has been on-orbit for going on 19 years now.

  4. My take is that from where we are *now*, examine whether JWST is worth a reasonable estimate of remaining costs, when a reasonable estimate of its failure chances are factored in. And if it isn’t, cancel it.

    Personally, I don’t like its chances when it comes to deployment. It’s insanely complex, and that oragami has to deploy perfectly. It’s also worth considering that the longer it waits, the more likely it is to have issues.

    8 billion and all these years to get to this point is nothing less than obscene.

  5. Isn’t $8 billion the equivalent of approximately 133 Falcon 9 launches at $60,000,000 a pop, or 89 Falcon Heavy launches at $90,000,000? Burt Rutan’s supposed alternate definition for NASA: No Adult Supervision Apparent, applies in full.

  6. All right, I’m going to be the contrarian here (someone’s got to do it). Hubble also was criticized for being insanely over cost, and then it didn’t work, and required massive resources to fix. All of that is more or less forgotten today, and the plethora of pictures and discoveries provide a solid case that it was worth it.

    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.

    From this inflation calculator, $4.7B in 1990 is $9.2B today. Something to keep in mind…

      1. Are you trying to tell me all those movies from the Shuttle era showing it going to the Moon (Moonraker comes to mind) or the Sun (Airplane II) were not entirely technically accurate? Bah, we’ll just pull that one out of your museum there and go after it.

  7. It would be interesting to give the astrophysics community a Sophie’s choice:

    1) Steady as she goes with JWST, origami and overruns and all… UT you lose WFIRST.

    2) Kill JWST right now, today. Push the carcass into Los Angeles Harbor. Lay off all the workers. BUT, fully fund WFIRST.

    Pick one. You can’t have both. And if you refuse to pick,

    3) You get neither one.

    I suspect we will pursue option (3).

  8. Obviously a typo for “BUT” in option one.

    If anyone knows a way to convince my iPhone to stop autocorrecting “[space]ut” to “UT”, I’d love to know about it. I frequently fail to hit the “b” key.

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