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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 23, 2005 0:38:38 GMT -6
NASA Delays JWST Launch by 2 Years To Stem Cost Growth
NASA plans to delay the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) nearly two years, to 2013, to cope with $1 billion in cost growth on the mission, a senior program official said.
The latest plan for the infrared observatory, the designated successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, is expected to be finalized in April. It is based on the recommendations of a panel of astronomers dubbed the Science Assessment Team.
The panel effectively nixed drastic cost-saving measures such as reducing the size of JWST’s 6.5-meter mirror or dropping certain instruments. Instead, the members recommended relaxing some of the observatory’s more-stringent manufacturing specifications that were tied to relatively low-priority science objectives.
In a related measure, NASA will drop a short-wavelength tunable filter that the Canadian Space Agency was going to provide as an enhancement to Webb’s Fine Guidance Sensor. While important to astronomers interested in very specific wavelengths of light given off by celestial objects, the filter was considered among the lowest of Webb’s science priorities, Geithner said.
Deleting the tunable filter will not save any money, but it will eliminate about 80 kilograms of mass from the telescope. That is important, Geithner said, given that engineers are trying to keep JWST’s weight under 6,200 kilograms.