Space & Planetary Science: June 2018 Archives

NASA Is Delaying The Launch Of Its $9 Billion Space Telescope -- Again, Buzzfeed

"Make no mistake, I'm not happy sitting here telling you this," NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen told reporters on a briefing about the delay. He deflected criticism from spacecraft contractor Northrop Grumman, saying, "we are part of the team that caused this problem and we are going to have to solve it together." Blowing the budget cap for JWST means that Congress will have to vote to reauthorize completion of the telescope, which has already drawn ire from lawmakers. NASA plans to ask for the authorization and extra money in February. "Program delays and cost overruns don't just delay the JWST's critical work, but they also harm other valuable NASA missions, which may be delayed, defunded, or discarded entirely," Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee told BuzzFeed News in a statement. His committee will hold a hearing to address the report next month. The witnesses will include the NASA administrator, James Bridenstine, and Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush. "I expect to see progress on keeping projects on budget and on time," said Smith."

Media Telecon on Status of James Webb Space Telescope, June 27th

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT [17:00 UTC], Wednesday, June 27, to provide an update on the agency's James Webb Space Telescope and the findings of an external independent review board. Webb will be the world's premier infrared space observatory and the largest astronomical space science telescope ever built. Audio of the call will stream live on NASA's website [https://www.nasa.gov/live]."

NASA Completes Webb Telescope Review, Commits to Launch in Early 2021

"The Independent Review Board (IRB) established by NASA to assess progress on its James Webb Space Telescope has unanimously recommended that development on the world's premier science observatory should continue; NASA has established a new launch date for Webb of March 30, 2021. A report issued by the review board addresses a range of factors influencing Webb's schedule and performance, including the technical challenges and tasks remaining by primary contractor Northrop Grumman before launch."

"As a result of the delay, Webb's total lifecycle cost to support the March 202l launch date is estimated at $9.66 billion. The development cost estimate to support the new launch date is $8.8B (up from the $8B development cost estimate established in 2011). Along with the IRB's broad-view assessment, NASA also considered data from the project's Standing Review Board (SRB). Both review panels had concluded that a 2020 launch date would have been feasible before the recent acoustics test anomaly."

"Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems (NGAS) should establish corrective actions in processes, training, personnel certification, individual accountability and a robust testing, analysis and inspection process. Agree. NGAS stood down operations and performed an independent set of reviews and rewrites of all propulsion procedures including feedback from the performers. Also, applied Integration & Test (I&T) procedure expertise to manufacturing operations. To further enhance robustness in I&T, NGAS will be incorporating cross program independent reviews of the table top and pre-task briefing processes."

NASA Announces Contract for Next-Generation Space Telescope Named after Space Pioneer (2002)

"The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2010 aboard an expendable launch vehicle. NASA today selected TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif., to build a next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the man who led NASA in the early days of the fledgling aerospace agency. Under the terms of the contract valued at $824.8 million, TRW will design and fabricate the observatory's primary mirror and spacecraft. TRW also will be responsible for integrating the science instrument module into the spacecraft as well as performing the pre-flight testing and on-orbit checkout of the observatory."

- Webb Space Telescope May Bust Its Budget Cap Yet Again (Updated) (2018)
- Management Shake Up on Webb Space Telescope (2018)
- Yet Another Webb Problem Review Panel (2018)
- More Cost Overruns and Delays for Webb (2010)

National Near Earth Object Preparedness Plan Released

"A new multiagency report outlines how the U.S. could become better prepared for near-Earth objects -- asteroids and comets whose orbits come within 30 million miles of Earth -- otherwise known as NEOs. While no known NEOs currently pose significant risks of impact, the report is a key step to addressing a nationwide response to any future risks. NASA, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several other governmental agencies collaborated on this federal planning document for NEOs."

Two years of stonewalling: What happened when a scientist filed a public records request for NASA code, Retraction Watch

"In June 2016, I filed a FOIA request with NASA and JPL for materials related to the NEOWISE project. Both NASA and JPL immediately bounced my requests. They were "unable to process" them, they said, because "it is unclear what specific records you are requesting." Really? One of the requested categories on my list was "Documents about WISE/NEOWISE data analysis, model fitting and details thereof, including any documents on least-squares algorithms, for example the Levenberg-Marquardt algorithm or variations thereof." That was not specific enough? Frustrated, I hired some attorneys to revise the request into a form that met all legal requirements. My lawyers submitted very lawyerly clarification letters a few weeks later. Incredibly, NASA persisted in its claim that it could not process the requests, going so far as to "close" the cases. Among other absurdities, NASA claimed that it could only search paper files and not email. They can send men to the moon but...never mind."

NASA Response to Recent Paper on NEOWISE Asteroid Size Results, earlier post

"Examination of the paper by members of the science community studying near-Earth objects has found several fundamental errors in Myhrvold's approach and analysis--mistakes that an independent peer review process is designed to catch. The errors in the paper lead to results that are easily refuted, such as sizes for well-known asteroids that are significantly larger or smaller than their already-verified sizes."

Asteroid thermal modeling in the presence of reflected sunlight with an application to WISE/NEOWISE observational data, astro-ph

NASA: Mars Has Ancient Organic Material, Mysterious Methane

"NASA's Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet."

"While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet's surface and subsurface."

"The new findings - 'tough' organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere - appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science."

NASA Evaluating JWST Independent Review Report, Space Policy Online

"NASA is in the process of evaluating the report from the Independent Review Board chaired by Tom Young to assess the status of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Established in March, the Board was due to submit its report on May 31. NASA said today that the Board has completed its work and briefed NASA. The report will be released later this month after NASA determines the impact on cost and schedule."


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