The James Webb Space Telescope is large, overbudget and in a category of its own.
And now stirring over some controversy as the reality of science funding starts smacking scientists in the face.
Last year, as I’m, sure you remember, the JWST funding line was take out of the Astrophysics Division and segregated in its own division, a funding maneuver that has been used before for large overruning projects.
This, incidentally, brutally exposed how tight the space science budgets have been squeezed, partly through overruns, partly through tough little missions hanging on longer than planned, with catastrophic success, and partly because there are just cumulative overcommitments that NASA has made but not received the commensurate funding for (yes, I’m looking at you Sofia…).
So, here at the 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society, this is actually not an issue, we astronophysicists are far too
busy partying non-confrontational and diplomatic to make it so.
But. There are journalists.
“James Webb Space Telescope squeezing budget, NASA official says” (latimes).
“…now we’re not going to get the next ultraviolet mission for another 20 years. It’s the same with the X-ray people. Because NASA’s lost its way.”
Fortunately, we had the Honourable Dana Rohrabacher (CA), Vice-Chair of the House Science Committee, here at the AAS wednesday night to tell the community as it is.
It was a full and frank discussion, somewhat derailed by the questions, and Jeff Foust of SpacePolitics.com committed some journalism
– “After the talk, (Foust) asked Rohrabacher about one particular issue of interest to those attending the AAS meeting: the James Webb Space Telescope. He indicated he wasn’t confident that the program was back on track after cost and schedule overruns. “We will hold hearings on that early on, and we’ll find out” how well it’s doing, he said, referring to the House Science Committee, of which he is the new vice-chairman.”
Well, that could get interesting.