House proposes to drop NASA’s budget to 2008 levels, eliminate Webb Telescope

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The House today proposed cutting NASA’s budget back to 2008 levels while eliminating all funds for the James Webb Space Telescope.

As much as I’d hate to see the Webb telescope die, it has cost far more than planned, is way behind schedule, and carries a gigantic risk of failure. However, if I had a choice, I’d rather they cut the $1.95 billion for Congress’s homemade heavy-lift rocket, the program-formerly-called-Constellation. There is a much better chance that Webb will get completed, launched, and work, than there is for this improvised and impossibly costly Congressionally conceived rocket.


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  • I just had this conversation:

    fan: save JWST!
    Me: Why? If you believe mismanaged programs should be cancelled, then why do you have a problem with cancelling JWST?
    fan: we need JWST, it’s the successor to the Hubble. We need it, and it’s cool, and it supplies lots of jobs and it inspires kids.
    Me: Right, so that doesn’t matter that it is twice over-budget and slipping 5 years every 2 years? So long as it is cool, provides jobs and inspires kids, we don’t need good management!
    fan: well, umm, do we know it is mismanaged? JWST is on the cutting edge of space technology and it’s not easy to do cutting edge stuff.
    Me: The GAO report said all the technical issues were solved and the problems are with management.
    fan: There was a GAO report? Oh… but, that’s no reason to cancel it! They should just replace the management!
    Me: Yes, that’s what the GAO said NASA should do too.. even the journalists on the conference call asked who was going to be fired.
    fan: Then why are they cancelling it?
    Me: Because NASA didn’t fire anyone. NASA never fires anyone. Now Congress is actually doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s called “oversight”.

  • ZZMike

    Do we even have a way to put into orbit? Maybe we could ask the Russians, or the Chinese.

    And the launch has to be 100% – not 6 or 7 “9s”. If it fails …..

    Why is it so much over budget? Is it because we did the estimates in 1998 dollars,( for example), and now it’s 2011, and the old green dollar ain’t what she used to be? Or, more likely in those kinds of program, “requirements creep”?

    (At least, this time, they’ll probably do a real good test on the optics before they launch it.)

    Unfortunately, “being cool” is not quite reason enough to spend a few billion $$. Even so, the $1.7 or so billion yet to be spent would trim the national deficit by almost an entire percent.

    I saw the video graphic. The tolerances have to be amazingly tight – not to mention that it first has to be put on the launch vehicle, undergo at least several seconds of 3 or 4 G, then get dumped into the cold vacuum of space, and the direct Sun’s rays.

    A followup question is, there’s got to be a lot of hardware already built; what’ll happen to that? Keep it in cold storage until maybe there’s a “go”? Dump it on the surplus market? The sensors alone should be worth a few million $$.

  • What’s really annoying is all these people coming out of the woodwork demanding that we “save JWST” who have never even heard of JWST before now. They certainly haven’t heard about the inept management that got us to this point. They just want their rattle.

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