Tuesday May 22, 2018
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NASA delays launch of next-gen space telescope until 2020

NASA is now targeting May 2020 for the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope, the $8 billion dollar Hubble successor

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NASA is now targeting May 2020 for the launch of its James Webb Space Telescope, the $8 billion dollar Hubble successor. The announcement on Tuesday made after an independent assessment of remaining tasks for the highly complex space observatory further pushes the launch target of the next-generation space telescope by about a year.

“Webb is the highest priority project for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, and the largest international space science project in US history,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
The next-gen space telescope will now be released in 2020. Wikimedia Commons

“All the observatory’s flight hardware is now complete, however, the issues brought to light with the spacecraft element are prompting us to take the necessary steps to refocus our efforts on the completion of this ambitious and complex observatory,” Lightfoot said.

Testing the hardware on the observatory’s telescope element and spacecraft element demonstrate that these systems individually meet their requirements. However, recent findings from the project’s Standing Review Board (SRB) indicate more time is needed to test and integrate these components together and then perform environmental testing at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California, the project’s observatory contractor.

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NASA said it is also establishing an external Independent Review Board (IRB), chaired by Thomas Young, a highly respected NASA and industry veteran who is often called on to chair advisory committees and analyse organisational and technical issues.

NASA will consider the findings and recommendations of both the boards’ findings for defining a more specific launch time frame. The US space agency will then provide its assessment in a report to Congress this summer.

Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency. NASA will work with its partner, ESA, on a new launch readiness date for the Ariane 5 vehicle that will launch Webb into space.

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NASA will research more before working on the telescope. IANS

ESA is providing the Ariane 5 as part of its scientific collaboration. Once a new launch readiness date is determined, NASA said it will provide a cost estimate that may exceed the projected $8 billion development cost to complete the final phase of testing and prepare for launch.

Additional steps to address project challenges include increasing NASA engineering oversight, personnel changes, and new management reporting structures. “Considering the investment NASA and our international partners have made, we want to proceed systematically through these last tests, with the additional time necessary, to be ready for a May 2020 launch,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. IANS

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US Senators Want NASA To Extend The ISS Life Until At Least 2028

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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NASA ISS
Representational Image, VOA

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas who is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened the hearing on Wednesday, which was the first in a series of two hearings to examine the role of the space station.

In its 2019 budget request, the Donald Trump administration proposed ending direct government funding for the ISS by 2025, Florida Today, part of the USA Today network, reported on Wednesday.

“We’ve got this platform up there (worth) north of $100 billion, and it’s there,” Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, ranking member on the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, was quoted as saying.

“Abandoning this incredible orbiting laboratory where they are doing research, when we are on the cusp of a new era of space exploration, would be irresponsible at best and probably disastrous,” Nelson added.

NASA should extend the life of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2028, two US Senators said in a hearing to examine the future of the orbiting laboratory.
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 directed NASA to develop a plan to transition ISS from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit (LEO) non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

The aim was to save mony so that more resources could invested into deep space exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars.

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The space agency’s internal watchdog on Wednesday, however, said that private companies are unlikely to take on the more than $1 billion annual cost to run the International Space Station by 2025 as NASA hopes.

The report from NASA Inspector General provided a closing argument against the Trump administration’s proposal to privatise or abandon the orbiting laboratory so soon, the US senators said, according to the Florida Today report.

“The defence rests,” quipped Senator Cruz of Texas. (IANS)