NASA confident Webb will launch in October

In a briefing held yesterday, NASA officials — in summarizing the status of the James Webb Space Telescope — stated they were presently confident that its launch will take place in October this year, as presently planned.

[Eric Smith, JWST program scientist> said the program is dealing with one new technical issue. Two communications transponders suffered separate problems during testing in January. Engineers have tracked down the problems with the two units and started repairs this week. “Those boxes will be back in time for us to make our planned shipping date,” he said.

That issue, he acknowledged, will use some of the remaining schedule margin. “The plan right now is that we’ll get them back in time so that we don’t have to use all of it,” he said. “That’s the main thing that we’re watching regarding the margin.”

If launched in October, Webb will only be a decade behind schedule and a mere 20 times over budget, having been initially proposed to launch in 2011 for a cost of $500 million. Instead, it will cost about $10 billion.

The article also notes that the Biden administration might change the telescope’s name because Webb as a bureaucrat early in his career apparently publicly opposed homosexual rights. Such opinions can no longer be allowed, and anyone who has them must be blackballed as quickly as possible.

No matter. Webb was merely NASA’s administrator through almost its entire first decade, leading the agency in its triumph over the Soviets in the race to the Moon. Such achievements cannot be honored as they illustrate the past greatness of America. Moreover, Webb was a white man, and this makes him totally unqualified to receive any laurels. Today’s modern America hates itself and all white men.

The article also notes a variety of issues that will cause more delays of the new big astronomy boondoggle at NASA, the Roman Space Telescope. They say its launch will likely be delayed to 2026 because of the Wuhan flu panic. I predict this is only a foretaste. Expect many more delays and budget overruns, probably pushing its launch into the 2030s.

But no matter. What is really important is that this new boondoggle is named for a woman!

NASA names WFIRST after its first head of astronomy, Nancy Roman

NASA today announced that it has renamed the proposed Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope in honor of the agency’s first head of astronomy.

Considered the “mother” of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which launched 30 years ago, Roman tirelessly advocated for new tools that would allow scientists to study the broader universe from space. She left behind a tremendous legacy in the scientific community when she died in 2018.

…When she arrived at NASA, astronomers could obtain data from balloons, sounding rockets and airplanes, but they could not measure all the wavelengths of light. Earth’s atmosphere blocks out much of the radiation that comes from the distant universe. What’s more, only a telescope in space has the luxury of perpetual nighttime and doesn’t have to shut down during the day. Roman knew that to see the universe through more powerful, unblinking eyes, NASA would have to send telescopes to space.

Through Roman’s leadership, NASA launched four Orbiting Astronomical Observatories between 1966 and 1972. While only two of the four were successful, they demonstrated the value of space-based astrophysics and represented the precursors to Hubble. She also championed the International Ultraviolet Explorer, which was built in the 1970s as a joint project between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the United Kingdom, as well as the Cosmic Background Explorer, which measured the leftover radiation from the big bang and led to two of its leading scientists receiving the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Above all, Roman is credited with making the Hubble Space Telescope a reality. In the mid-1960s, she set up a committee of astronomers and engineers to envision a telescope that could accomplish important scientific goals. She convinced NASA and Congress that it was a priority to launch the most powerful space telescope the world had ever seen.

This is a nice and very fitting gesture to honor one of the many unsung heroes who were important in the history of space astronomy. I just hope that Roman’s telescope doesn’t end up like James Webb’s, so over budget and behind schedule that it destroys all other NASA space telescope projects. Sadly, its track record so far suggests this is what will happen, which is why the Trump administration has been trying to get it canceled.