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A new GAO report released yesterday says that the James Webb Space Telescope faces further delays and cost overruns.
This is par for the course. Webb has become an incredible boondoggle. I hope it eventually gets launched and works, but its gigantic cost, $8 to $9 billion (compared to an original $1 billion budget), and delayed schedule suggests that this was not the right way for NASA or the astronomical community to build its space telescopes. Further, this quote from the story suggests something fundamentally wrong:
The GAO report also noted that, during the sunshield deployment exercises, Northrop discovered several tears in the material which it attributed to “workmanship error.” Those tears can be repaired but may consume more schedule reserve.
Is this thing really going to work? I really hope so, but have been increasingly doubtful as the delays and problems have piled up.
Meanwhile, NASA and the astronomical community is still pushing to get funding for its next “Webb,” the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). This project, similar in scope as Webb, is hardly off the ground and already has budget overrun issues. The Trump administration recommended cancelling in its budget proposal earlier this month, but I would be surprised if that recommendation goes through, considering the pork this new project represents.