JWST gets Congressional attention

The Baltimore Sun reports today that the billion-dollar cost overrun for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has gained the attention of Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). She told the Sun that she was “shocked” with the news earlier this month about the cost increase. “There should be no disruption to the program, the science or the work force at Goddard,” she said. “I expect nothing less than a thorough and independent review to get to the bottom of these problems and fix them.” Mikulski’s attention is not surprising, given that the program is run out of NASA Goddard and science operations of JWST will be run out of the Space Telescope Science Institute, both located in Maryland. Also not surprising is the concern noted by scientists in the article about the budget flexibility granted to NASA in its current budget, which breaks down old barriers between science and manned spaceflight programs. “That NASA could use any of its money in any way it chooses has pretty serious ramifications for space science at NASA,” said one astronomer.

Update 12:45 pm: An alert reader pointed out this page which lists presentations to a meeting earlier this month of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. Included is this brief presentation titled “JWST Cost Growth”, which features a breakdown of the $1.08 billion increase in the program’s cost.

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