Astronomical Engines

A Look at the James Webb Space Telescope

An artist's rendering of the JWST

Good morning again, everyone.

It still is the morning, correct? My coffee is still hot and [opens curtains] it’s quite bright out. Morning it is.

Today we’re going to look at the New Technology Space Telescope, now known as the James Webb Space Telescope. As I’m sure you all know, James Webb was the second administrator of NASA, and evidently did some good things as a bureaucrat during his reign there. It looks to be an ill-omened name, however, considering all of the bureaucratic bungling and huge cost overruns that the project has had, and is still having. The project was originally estimated to cost $1.6 billion, but as development progressed, that grew to $5 billion by the time that construction was confirmed and scheduled to start in 2008, with a launch date of 2011. Because of the cost overruns, NASA shuffled the management, but that caused a big delay in the planned launch date, which was now pushed back to 2018 at least, and maybe out to 2020. Maybe longer. And the cost keeps going up. In July 2011, the cost had risen to $6.5 billion, and in August it rose to 8.7 billion for the cost of the telescope and 5 years of operation.

Eight point seven billion dollars. Jeebus H. Fooking Kleist on a ladder.


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