Artist’s view of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in space, up and operating tackling a full agenda of space science conquests.
Credit: Northrop Grumman

 

The U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) issued today a new report:

“James Webb Space Telescope: Project Nearing Completion, but Work to Resolve Challenges Continues”

The GAO report notes that the cost of the telescope has nearly doubled—to $9.7 billion—since 2009. Its launch, now planned for October 2021, has been delayed over 7 years – and may be delayed again due to less than fully nominal separation of the fairing on two recent Ariane 5 launches, SpaceNews reports. Europe’s Ariane 5 is the booster that will hurl the telescope into space.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope in the clean room at Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, California.
Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

Schedule reserves

“NASA is working to complete the telescope. Activities like strengthening the telescope’s sunshield took longer than expected, cutting into the project’s schedule reserves, i.e., the extra time NASA set aside to account for unforeseen problems. As a result, NASA has less reserve than planned to complete remaining activities,” the GAO report explains.

Credit: GAO/NASA

The James Web Space Telescope (JWST) is a large, deployable telescope – one of NASA’s most complex projects and top priorities. It is the scientific successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and is intended to help scientists better understand how galaxies and the universe have evolved and study planets in other solar systems.

Problems discovered during integration and testing caused multiple delays, the GAO report explains, that led NASA to replan the project in June 2018.

To read the newly issued GAO report, go to:

https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-406.pdf

A “highlights” fact sheet can be found here at:

https://www.gao.gov/assets/gao-21-406-highlights.pdf

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