NASA resets Webb Telescope launch for 2021

Webb Space Telescope
The mirror for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope rises from a shop floor at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center during assembly. (NASA Photo)

NASA says the launch of its flagship James Webb Space Telescope is being rescheduled for no earlier than 2021, with its total price tag boosted to $9.66 billion.

That price tag includes a development cost of $8.8 billion, which breaks the $8 billion development cost cap mandated by Congress in 2011. That was the last time the Webb project went through a do-or-die debate.

“Congress will have to reauthorize Webb through this next cycle of authorization,” NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk said today during a teleconference announcing the reset.

NASA officials strongly supported going ahead with the telescope, which is in the latter stages of testing and assembly. The general-purpose telescope is expected to build on the trailblazing observations of the Hubble Space Telescope and provide unprecedented insights about exoplanets and the farthest frontiers of the observable universe.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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