For more than two decades, NASA has been developing what is being hailed as the most powerful space telescope ever created, a technological masterpiece that will live 1 million miles from Earth and unlock the mysteries of the distant Universe. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will have a 25-foot golden mirror that will be able to collect light from the first stars and galaxies that sprung to life just after the Big Bang. But the space agency just can’t seem to get the telescope off the ground. Since 2011, NASA had hoped to launch the JWST sometime this October. But in June, the space agency announced that the project would not launch until March 2021, and it will require millions of dollars more than NASA currently has budgeted. It’s another nasty sting to the program, which has become defined by its history of schedule delays and cost overruns. JWST was originally conceived in 1996 as a $1 billion telescope, with an expected launch sometime around 2007. Since then, the scope of the project has ballooned: its total lifetime cost will be more than nine times that much, around $9.66 billion, with a launch more than a decade later than planned. Now, many are looking for someone to blame for the project’s woes. In recent months, much of the focus has centered around the telescope’s primary contractor Northrop Grumman. The main components of the JWST are currently being assembled at the company’s facilities in Southern California. But numerous humans errors… [Read full story]
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