Webb Community Webinar: Happy Talk and Denial

James Webb Space Telescope Q&A Session: A Town Hall Webinar

Astronomers Plead for Space Telescope's Life, Wired

"Initially estimated to cost approximately $1 billion in 1996, recent calculations for the telescope peg its price tag at nearly $8.7 billion. An independent panel last year placed the blame for these cost increases on delays and mismanagement by NASA officials. These problems have even created a congressional scuffle, with the House of Representatives voting to zero out the telescope's budget while the Senate produced a bill to fully fund it. The two are currently trying to reconcile the discrepancy."

Controversy over Hubble telescope successor rages on, space.com via MSNBC

"We just really don't know exactly what's going to happen," said planetary scientist Melissa McGrath, chairwoman of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences. "I think people are really fearful right now because of the bigger context in which this is happening. There's a very budget-conscious feeling right now. There's a lot of pressure on the budget external to NASA and JWST, and that just exacerbates the problem. It's just sort of a worst-case scenario."

Keith's note: At one point today the panelists stated that "no one is talking about canceling Webb". Obviously they are unaware of what House Appropriators have been saying. Also, planetary scientist Jon Lunine stated that he did not think that social media was the place to be having discussions about space policy matters. Alas, Lunine was responding to a question I posted via Twitter and did so on a webinar heavily promoted via social media by its organizers. Rick Howard from NASA could not say where the cost overruns (final cost now pegged at $8.7 billion) would be taken from at NASA other than that half would come from SMD and the rest would come from, well, he did not know exactly where other than it would come from within NASA. And of course no one (including AURA, STScI, and AAS) really wanted to talk about differing opinions withing the space and planetary science community about Webb other than to suggest that internal squabbling was to be discouraged. Instead they repeatedly offered up happy talk about how the world loves Webb. The whole thing is online here. Watch for yourself.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on September 21, 2011 10:00 PM.

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