NASA Puts Cap on Future Space Telescope Budget

 

NASA is telling scientists working on the four telescope to reduce cost on the project. The agency is giving the scientists limits to work within. NASA has announced that scientists would have to work towards lowering their missions to at most $5 billion. 

As a result of the limitations, scientists might have to alter some designs to lower cost. NASA is currently preparing for its 2020 Decadal Survey for Astrophysics, and four teams of scientists are designing telescope concepts for the survey. 

This survey compiles a list of missions suggested by the astrophysics community. Every ten years, the community gets to make suggestions based on a wide variety of topics and NASA works on the proposals. 

NASA commissioned four teams to design four separate telescopes. The teams which were commissioned in 2016 did not have any financial restrictions back then. One team had a design that costs almost $20 billion, and the team would have to cut down on it. 

The four telescope missions include HabEx, Lynx, LUVOUR, and OST. The scientists now have to lock at cheaper options for the design of the telescope. The agency wants to make enough money available for essential astrophysics projects.

The most recent upcoming is the James Webb Space and Telescope. The launching of the project which the company scheduled for the late Spring has now been delayed to May 2020. Most of the delay is as a result of the mistakes during the building of the telescope. 

The delays have pushed back the launch date of the JWST. These delays are also increasing the financial commitments of the mission. The mission has a financial limitation of $8 billion; Congress imposed this limitation. 

Over the last two decades, NASA has invested most of the funds meant for astrophysics into the construction of the JWST. 

The telescope mission was proposed in 1996, at that time, the project was expected to cost between $1 billion and $3.5 billion. The Government Accountability Office released these figures. They also scheduled launch for between 2007 and 2011. The situation has changed over the years, now the project exceeds $8.8 billion and may launch in May 2020. 

The delay in the JWST made NASA consider delaying the Decadal Survey. However, the agency has decided to proceed with the Decadal, and that is why they are effecting a cap on the budget for the construction of the telescope.