Webb telescope further delayed by COVID-19

Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space cover

After being in print for twenty years, the Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space, covering everything that was learned on every single space mission in the 20th century, has finally gone out of print.

I presently have my last four hardback copies available for sale. The book sold new for about $90. To get your own autographed copy of this now rare collector's item, please send a $120 check (which includes shipping) payable to Robert Zimmerman to

Behind The Black, c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

"Useful to space buffs and generalists, comprehensive but readable, Bob Zimmerman's Encyclopedia belongs front and center on everyone's bookshelf." -- Mike Collins, Apollo 11 astronaut


"The Chronological Encylopedia of Discoveries in Space is no passionless compendium of information. Robert Zimmerman's fact-filled reports, which cover virtually every spacecraft or probe to have ventured into the heavens, relate the scientific and technical adventure of space exploration enthusiastically and with authority." -- American Scientist

As part of its decision to shut down most of the agency’s operations due to fear of the COVID-19 virus, NASA’s has suspended all work on the James Webb Telescope, further delaying this much delayed space telescope.

The follow-on to the popular Hubble Space Telescope [Ed: a NASA lie that is not true], years late and billions over budget, it was on track for launch in March 2021, though some NASA officials were hinting there might be another delay. Today’s action almost certainly assures it. “The James Webb Space Telescope team … is suspending integration and testing operations. Decisions could be adjusted as the situation continues to unfold over the weekend and into next week. The decision was made to ensure the safety of the workforce. The observatory remains safe in its cleanroom environment.” — NASA

I must repeat this incessantly, as it appears too many modern space reporters are very ignorant about their own field. Webb is not a” follow-on to Hubble.” Astronomers made the decision in the late 1990s to build an infrared space telescope instead, which is what Webb is. For more than a decade they, and NASA, lied to the public about this, claiming Webb was a better version of Hubble, in order to garner support for building Webb.

I have been calling NASA on lie this since 2008, when I wrote The Universe in a Mirror, which I think eventually forced the agency to stop doing it. It is shameful however for a reporter now, in 2020, to still spread it.

As for Webb, this decision by NASA will certainly delay it again. The project is already fourteen years behind schedule, with its budget ballooning from $500 million to about $10 billion. All told, a perfect example of government in action.



  • Surly

    S/B ‘from $500 million to about $10 billion’?

  • Surly: I do not understand your comment or question? Could you clarify?

  • john hare

    Your article has it at $500 Billion to $10 Billion. It’s a typo in the second to last sentence.

  • John Hare: Thank you. Now corrected.

  • MDN

    What do you want to bet that NASA was not being honest about the real schedule reality for the JWST anyway, and simply leveraged the Corona virus debacle to hide that fact? Sadly, it makes no difference though as French Guiana has ceased all launch operations until Ariane Space can guarantee that work at that facility eliminates the effects of aging, global warming, and pollution of the ionosphere.

    I am soooo disappointed by government run anything. Always late, too expensive, and a crappy compromise of mission primarily pursued not to achieve new and great things, but to vector taxpayer funds to people who want to live well but can’t hack it in the real world, but know how to work the pork barrel buffet. Elon Musk is a rare breath of fresh air that we sorely need to copy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *