James Webb obit?

The James Webb Space Telescope. Click image for NASA homepage

I don’t see how this thing survives the budget-and-throat cutting mania that has conveniently gripped the political and traditional media class ever since a democrat came into power. And for that I’m conflicted:

“NASA has completed a JWST replan that assumes a revised life-cycle-cost of about $8.7 billion and a launch readiness date of October 2018,” agency spokesman Trent Perrotto said in an Aug. 26 email to Space News. “The $8.7 billion life-cycle-cost includes development, launch, and five years of operations and science costs.”

Translation, it will cost more than $8.7 billion and it won’t be ready until after 2018. That’s just how these deals work. The JWST is a big quantum leap in space telescopes. So was the Hubble of course. But unlike Hubble, JWST is millions of miles distant with electronics and optics far ahead of anything we’ve done to date. If something goes wrong, there won’t be a repair mission for many years, if ever. Other critics have pointed out the price tag, as high as $10 billion dollars, has to come at the expense of a suite of exciting unmanned missions in the works.

But some at NASA are convinced it will be a public relations coup like Hubble. And the science JWST might return if it ever is launched and it does work would be the awesome sauce of awesome sauce.


  1. stevarious says

    Like, pure concentrated awesome sauce drizzled over awesome steak and garnished with sprigs of awesome. We’re talking about a 5-course parade of awesome delicacies, lit by awesome candles made by awesome bees voiced by Jarrey ‘Awesome’ Seinfeld.

    Of course I’m wrong… Seinfeld isn’t THAT awesome.

  2. llewelly says

    The Republicans are also convinced that JWST might be a major public relations coup for NASA, and for science in general. And (with a few exceptions) they don’t want that. NASA is a primary source of much of world’s best climate science. And anything that promotes science, also promotes critical thinking, and is thus clearly detrimental to their political strategy.

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