Costs to build the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's successor to Hubble, are mushrooming out of control, prompting the agency to make personnel changes to get the project back on track.
An independent comprehensive review panel (ICRP) found that it will take between $6.2 billion to $6.8 billion, rather than the estimated $5 billion, to complete the telescope, costs that will require the agency to add another $500 million to its budget over the next two years. The panel released its report on 10 November. The panel blamed lack of cost control, not on the technical team building the telescope, but on project management and budgeting projections.
NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement that a reorganization of the JWST management is underway. "Also, "Goddard Space Flight Center's project office has been reorganized to report directly to the center director. That office is undergoing personnel changes to specifically address the issues identified in the report," he said.
"I am encouraged the ICRP verified our assessment that JWST is technically sound, and that the project continues to make progress and meet its milestones. However, I am disappointed we have not maintained the level of cost control we strive to achieve -- something the American taxpayer deserves in all of our projects. NASA is committed to finding a sustainable path forward for the program based on realistic cost and schedule assessments."
NASA Finds Space Telescope Plagued By Astronomical Costs (Information Week)
Telescope Is Behind Schedule and Over Budget, Panel Says (New York Times)
James Webb Space Telescope Independent Comprehensive Review Panel -- Final Report