At Last, First Light for the James Webb Space Telescope

erek

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"Naturally, Bush demurred. He also marshalled an argument that has been used to justify large expenditures on space missions since Sputnik: the need to demonstrate technological prowess. “It is especially important that we take on programs like Webb to demonstrate to the world that we can lead,” said Bush.

During the thoroughgoing reevaluation in 2018, launch was postponed to March of 2021. Then the pandemic hit, delaying work up and down the line. In July of 2020, launch was postponed yet again, to 31 October 2021.

Whether Northrop Grumman will really hit that target is anyone’s guess: The company did not respond to requests from IEEE Spectrum for information about how the pandemic is affecting the project timeline. But if this massive, quarter-century-long undertaking finally makes it into space this year, astronomers will no doubt be elated. Let’s just hope that elation over a space telescope doesn’t again turn into dread.

This article appears in the January 2021 print issue as “Where No One Has Seen Before.”"

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https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace...irst-light-for-the-james-webb-space-telescope
 

defaultluser

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All the work is done in "Clean rooms". Thats probably the best place to work during a pandemic

Its true, but there's still the overhead of cleaning between shifts, and the inevitable interactions when you leave the clean room for your office, you get infection = downtime.

I work at the Northrop manufacturing facility at BWI, and even with masks required, we still had outbreaks before the holiday shutdown.

I have never been realistic about Northrop launching this complex thing on-time, but these continued delays are getting a bit ridiculous!
 
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I have never been realistic about Northrop launching this complex thing on-time, but these continued delays are getting a bit ridiculous!
It has to work the first time. It can’t blow up like some private space companies can. The ceo of NG can’t tweet “failure was caused by poorly designed XYZ, but we knew about it ahead of time and the 2nd telescope will incorporate fixes.”
 

1_rick

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It has to work the first time. It can’t blow up like some private space companies can. The ceo of NG can’t tweet “failure was caused by poorly designed XYZ, but we knew about it ahead of time and the 2nd telescope will incorporate fixes.”
When you make stuff very complicated and therefore expensive, you can't afford a backup, that's true.
 

THRESHIN

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It has to work the first time. It can’t blow up like some private space companies can. The ceo of NG can’t tweet “failure was caused by poorly designed XYZ, but we knew about it ahead of time and the 2nd telescope will incorporate fixes.”

Well the Hubbell didn't work right away due to a faulty mirror, but they did replace it in space.... hopefully they won't have to do that again!
 

THRESHIN

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They won't be able to do it to the Webb.

Now that you mention it, I did read that somewhere a while back and forgot about it.

Big complex machines that can't be maintained. That's always worked out in the past, right?
 

Sycraft

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Now that you mention it, I did read that somewhere a while back and forgot about it.

Big complex machines that can't be maintained. That's always worked out in the past, right?
It's a risk to be sure, but that is one you take with stuff in space often. Mars rovers are the same way. Once they are sent out-orbit, there's no fixes. "You come with what you brung" and all that. But with careful design and planning and testing, you can often get it to work. There are good reasons to want it at the L2 point, which is way out of reach for maintenance, rather than in earth orbit. The biggest is ability to avoid and dissipate heat (the telescope is IR so this matters) and that it'll enjoy an unimpeded view of the space.
 

idiomatic

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What its proving is that some of the big tech companies have severe Boeing syndrome. Y'all are familiar with it manifesting in Intel.

As soon as Congress is personally interested in your Gantt chart you are fucked.
 

Wat

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Hey, I was being a smartarse dork with my comment, but I do wonder what a second one would cost. All the r and d costs (and hopefully all the 'oh sh**'s too) are absorbed by the first one.
If they both survive launch and make it to the Lagrange point, I am sure there's enough astronomy to do to keep them both busy.
 

defaultluser

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Hey, I was being a smartarse dork with my comment, but I do wonder what a second one would cost. All the r and d costs (and hopefully all the 'oh sh**'s too) are absorbed by the first one.
If they both surviv

Take current dev cost and cut it in half.

Simple interplanetary probes start start 1 billion, and attaching a rover gets you into the 2 + Billion territory.

Performing this never-before-attempted feat of origami is going to cost double Curiosity...most of the antenna integration and test cannot be fully-automated like chip fabrication in clean rooms.

You can't hope to take advantage of mass-production when you're only building two of them (so at-most you save on whatever facilities you had t build for this/custom training for personnel).
 
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