Look up And Wonder
19th Jul. 2011 :: JWST Program Status July 2011

NASA has a new program status document on the James Webb Space Telescope which updates on the exact current status of the program, and clarifies current costs, and dates.

It's a very interesting document and well worth a read if you're interested in the telescope or NASA and/ or want to understand where exactly the program sits in development. Here are the highlights:
  1. The current schedule is for launch in October 2018.
  2. $3B of US taxpayer's money spent to date.
  3. Future costs and schedule are quoted with 80% confidence.
  4. 18 flight (plus 1 spare) primary mirror segments are fully assembled.
  5. All science instruments are in the integration or testing stage.
  6. The flight backplane structure is under development.
  7. Sunshield membrane and booms in development and initial manufacture stages.
  8. The spacecraft is being designed and flight software is under development.
  9. Secondary Mirror is complete.
  10. Tertiary Mirror is complete.
  11. Fine Steering Mirror 90% done.
  12. Total international partner investment currently stands at just under $1Billion at ~$940 Million.
The push back to 2018 (due to lack of funding) causes a series of concerns over long storage of actuators and mirrors, which are very precise and expensive key components and require expensive storage in highly controlled environments. The document notes that the program through the 3 years 2013, 2014 & 2015 could still be accelerated.

The word "done" occurs 19 times in this document, which gives some idea of just how far along this program actually is (much of the time and cost after construction is of course given over to extensive testing). Cancelling the James Webb Telescope in light of the facts laid out in this document would clearly be hugely costly and a colossal disaster for NASA, and it's scientific goals for at least 15 years to come.

It also appears that NASA has a very good grip on the program, it's direction and outstanding requirements, it seems that the only battle is - as usual - for the appropriate funding and support from those who control the purse strings.

Read the full document here: James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Program Status and Replan

UPDATE: Here is a NASA feature on the the completed secondary mirror.

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About Me

I am an amateur astronomer; I am interested in science, innovation, astronomy and general musing about philosophies of life, the universe and our place in it.

I love to look up and wonder, and this blog is mostly what results from that wondering.

I also enjoy Paragliding.

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