Photo: Michael Ciaglo, Staff
Shortly after NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope would be postponed for another year and cost an additional $ 1 billion Northrop Grumman said, "Northrop Grumman is proud of our many achievements in the program, but we recognize that issues we've encountered have affected the program," Spokesman Paynter said, adding that they "needed the corrective action have implemented ".
The Space Agency announced Wednesday that the telescope, already more than a decade behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, would delay another year by 2021 and cost nearly $ 9 billion. The announcement followed a review of the project by a 10-member Independent Review Board that drew up 32 separate recommendations to keep the telescope on track.
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Many of these delays were the result of human errors and other technical problems committed by Northrop Grumman. For example, in a test last month, the contractor lost numerous screws and washers holding the sunshade of the telescope. Four fasteners are still missing, a problem that costs the federal government $ 1 million a day in delayed labor.
James Webb, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, aims to revolutionize the planet's understanding of star and planet formation. Originally it was expected to start in 2007, but there were always delays and rising costs. The announced delay on Wednesday drives development costs beyond the $ 8 billion ceiling set by Congress in 2011, which means that congressional leaders will need to re-approve the project in the 2019 financial year.
U.S. Representative Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Chairman of the Space and Technology Committee, said Wednesday that his committee will hold a hearing next month to discuss the report of the Audit Committee.
Officials said they believe they will launch in March 2021. Date is possible if NASA and Northrop Grumman follow recommendations that include appropriate staff training, improved risk assessment, and the creation of a leadership position for monitoring system deployments in space ,
Paynter said Northrop Grumman "aggressively addresses the process and schedule, but we will not sacrifice quality for the schedule." Mission success is our top priority. "
Alex Stuckey covers NASA and the environment for the Houston Chronicle off. You can reach them at [email protected] or Twitter.com/alexdstuckey.