Category Archives: Space Science

Paul Spudis

This is terrible, and a huge loss to the lunar development community. I just saw him in January at the lunar landing science workshop at Ames. He had finally come around to oppose SLS. Condolences to his family and other friends, RIP, and ad astra.

[Update a few minutes later]

More from Leonard David, who was as shocked by the news as I am. I hadn’t been aware that he had lung cancer.

In For A Penny, In For A Pound

It’s about 0230 EDT, and I’m still up, planning home renovations for tomorrow. But I’m in south Florida, about fifteen minutes from the swamp to the west, and the sky is clear for both the Perseids and the Parker Solar Probe Delta IV launch in an hour, 150 miles north-northwest of me. So I might as well stay up a little longer. Hoping I’ll see the Milky Way for the first time in a long time.

[Sunday-morning update]

Well, saw half a dozen meteors, one of them right next to the ascending rocket. No Milky Way, though.

[Update Sunday night]

Given my recent failed attempts to see it, I’m wondering (slightly depressed) if it’s an age-related vision decline. It was very distinct in my youth, but it seems like there are a lot fewer stars than there used to be.

JWST

We expected this yesterday, but here it is:

Following an Independent Review Board report on the James Webb Space Telescope project, NASA has announced a further delay to the telescope’s anticipated launch. Coming just three months after a year-long delay to 2020, NASA now says the telescope will not be ready to launch until 2021 at the earliest and that the project will breach its $8.8 billion USD cost cap.

The cited mismanagement at NG and NASA is just staggering. The new overrun is about the amount that it was supposed to cost, in total, originally. What a programmatic disaster.

[Update after noon]

Here’s the story from Jeff Foust.

[Update a while later]

[Thursday-morning update]

Here‘s Marina Koren’s take:

A wiring error caused workers to apply too much voltage to the spacecraft’s pressure transducers, severely damaging them. And during an acoustics test, which examines whether hardware can survive the loud sounds of launch, the fasteners designed to hold the sun shield together came loose. The incident scattered 70 bolts, and engineers scrambled to find them. They’re still looking for a few. “We’re really close to finding every one of the pieces,” Zerbuchen said.

These three errors alone resulted in a schedule delay of about 1.5 years and $600 million, Young said.

I think that’s about Northrop Grumman’s annual net income. If I were NASA, I’d tell them that if they ever want another NASA contract, they’ll eat it themselves.

[Update a while later]

Alex Witze has more, over at Nature.