Ambushing SOFIA

NASA leaves jumbo-jet telescope on the runway, New Scientist

"The mission needs another $80 million to pass flight tests in late 2006 and begin regular science flights in 2008, says Black. That is the same amount NASA would have to pay SOFIA's contractors to close the project down, he estimates. "From a purely financial point of view, it makes no sense to do this."

Editor's note: Word has it that Rick Howard and Hashima Hassan, under direction by SMD Associate Administrator Mary Cleave, are preparing some background information regarding SOFIA (the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) in preparation for this week's hearings before the House Science Committee. This information is intended to serve as justification of NASA's proposed abandonment of the SOFIA project - despite the fact that SOFIA has consistently been a top priority of the National Academy of Sciences for more than a decade.

Apparently, the thrust of the presentation is that SOFIA is having money and technical problems and deserves to be cancelled. In making this argument, NASA will apparently not make any reference to another mission with similar albeit larger problems looming on the horizon i.e. the Webb Space Telescope and (cost growth = $1 billion-plus and counting). Word has it that NASA's SOFIA partner, DLR, wont exactly go along quietly on this issue.

And for those of you who may wonder why Webb is getting such special treatment while other projects with far smaller problems are being axed, just read this recent press release - and note the source.

Sen. Mikulski Response to Space Funding in President's NASA Budget

"The budget also provides $443 million for the Webb Telescope, which will follow the Hubble Telescope, scheduled to be launched in 2013. The Webb Telescope will be run by Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute and Goddard."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 13, 2006 10:08 AM.

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