Saturday, July 09, 2011

The Webb Tightens

An appropriations bill currently going through the US Congress would end all funding for the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST was originally intended to cost just 1 billion, but the price tag has risen to at least 6.5 billion dollars. The launch date has slipped to 2018 or later. Though JWST is new technology with inherent risks, some in Congress are getting tired of the cost.

This blog has tried to chronicle the sad state of NASA's astrophysics program. A Joint "Dark Energy" Mission was muscled to the front of the funding line, pushing aside promising projects like an X-Ray observatory. JDEM was also originally estimated to cost about 1 billion, though no one knows the real price. Along the way a Terrestrial Planet Finder mission was also left to wither. JDEM was then delayed to at least 2025 by the mounting costs of JWST. If the flagship mission is cancelled, astrophysics will be left with nothing.

All is not lost for Physics. JWST funding could be restored to the bill. Newton and Einstein made their advances without large labs or spacecraft. All a physicist needs to figure out that GM=tc^3 is a pencil and paper. The evidence is plain to see. Tangled Webb or not, scientific discovery marches quietly on.



Blogger Ed said...

11:01 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks Ed!

4:25 PM  

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