On Nov. 10, NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, released the findings of the Independent Comprehensive Review Panel on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Sen. Barbra Mikulski called for the independent review, which was led by John Casani from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The report stated that the mission is technologically sound and the cost growth is a result of mismanagement.
The successor to the Hubble Space Telescope will cost an extra $1.5 billion and is now predicted to launch in September 2015, over a year later than the original date of June 2014. An extra $250 million per year in 2011 and 2012 is needed in order to make the 2015 launch date.
The management of JWST has moved to NASA Headquarters. Richard Howard, NASA’s deputy chief technologist, will head the new division for JWST. Howard’s first order of business will be making a new budget for JWST by Feb. 2011.
The NASA Advisory Committee for Astrophysics Subcommittee (NAC APS) met on December 22 to discuss JWST. All top management for JWST has been replaced. JWST has been completely taken off the books in the Astrophysics (APS) Division and is now directly reporting to the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) and NASA Administration. The APS budget will be smaller without JWST. JWST over runs may be shared broadly in SMD. No word yet on the $5 million needed in FY2011 and FY2012. The “budget scrubbing” will not have happened before the JWST town hall at the 217th AAS Meeting in Seattle.
President of the AAS, Debra Elmegreen, wrote in an op-ed in Space News saying, “What’s at stake here are not just the missions the division is already pursuing (limited already due to the cost of JWST) but the next decade’s priority activities and the U.S. leadership in astrophysics.” JWST was about 40% of the NASA Astrophysics Division budget, which may prevent developments on the missions recommended but the Astro2010 Decadal Survey. The decade may be halfway over before the first large-scale space based recommendation, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), goes into development.
The JWST Town Hall at the 17th AAS Meeting in Seattle will be at 6:30-8:30pm in Ballroom 6E of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center.No tags for this post.