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The impending release of an independent NASA review of the state of the James Webb Space Telescope project suggests that the project is faced with additional issues.
NASA is in the process of evaluating the report from the Independent Review Board chaired by Tom Young to assess the status of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Established in March, the Board was due to submit its report on May 31. NASA said today that the Board has completed its work and briefed NASA. The report will be released later this month after NASA determines the impact on cost and schedule.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, created the Webb Independent Review Board (WIRB) on March 27, the same day he announced another delay in the telescope’s launch. WIRB held its first meeting the next week.
For many years, JWST appeared to be on track for launch in October 2018 after a 2011 restructuring that followed a series of earlier cost overruns and schedule delays. Congress capped the development cost (not operations) at $8 billion in law. Pursuant to the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, if a program exceeds 30 percent of its baseline estimated cost, NASA must notify Congress and no money may be spent on it after 18 months from the time of that notification unless Congress reauthorizes it.
The project will not die, Congress will simply extend it with lots more money. That is how big NASA projects really function, to take as long as possible so that they can continue their real goal of providing pork barrel jobs in congressional districts.