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NASA Space Science

Mirrors Finished For James Webb Space Telescope 115

eldavojohn writes "On August 15th, sendoff ceremonies were held at Ball Aerospace (subcontractor to Northrop Grumman) for the 18 gold-coated, ultrasmooth, 4.2-foot (1.3 meters) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segments that will comprise the 21.3-foot (6.5 m) primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Over 90% of the back material was taken out of these mirrors to make them light enough so that 18 could be launched into space where they must operate at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius). The mirrors will be adjusted by computer controlled actuators that are vital to JWST producing high-quality sharp images. The tennis court sized JWST will reside at L2 and is hyped to allow us to see 'back to the beginning of time.' NASA has provided a video of the computer animated metamorphosis with many more videos at the JWST site."
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Mirrors Finished For James Webb Space Telescope

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  • by bruce_the_loon ( 856617 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:17AM (#41067729) Homepage

    Please tell me they have been collimated properly and we aren't going to get another Hubble problem, this time at L2 with no hopes of a monocle to fix it.

  • by RenHoek ( 101570 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:37AM (#41067935) Homepage

    Guys, really? Fahrenheit? In a science article? On an international website?

    I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin? This at least give us _some_ idea of how close to absolute zero we are. Otherwise, why not use 'near absolute zero' and leave out the numbers completely?


  • by blueturffan ( 867705 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:54AM (#41068123)

    Guys, really? Fahrenheit? In a science article? On an international website?

    I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin? This at least give us _some_ idea of how close to absolute zero we are. Otherwise, why not use 'near absolute zero' and leave out the numbers completely?


    degrees Kelvin you say? In a comment to a science article?

  • by martinux ( 1742570 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @10:59AM (#41068163)

    NASA has learned a lot from all of their work up until now. Consider the spectacular success in getting Curiosity onto Mars - a remarkably complex and audacious plan.

    Testing methods, materials and technology has come a long way; it's not a guarantee that everything will go without a hitch but I'm optimisitic.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:36AM (#41068657) Homepage
    You say administrator like it's a dirty word. Webb made Apollo happen, up to and including throwing himself to the wolves after Apollo 1. He wasn't the bean counting ass covering naysaying Milquetoast that you'd expect in that position today.
  • Re:yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @11:57AM (#41068907)

    It's important science, but even if the telescope works without a hitch and everything goes according to plan, the Webb Space Telescope represents a real failure on the part of NASA administration. According to Wikipedia, the telescope was originally supposed to launch in 2007 for a cost of $500 million; then 2007-2008 for a cost of $1 billion, then 2009 for $1.8 billion, now it's 2018 and 8.7 billion. The Curiosity rover has also had major problems, being two years behind schedule and $1.5 billion over budget.

    I support the work NASA does, and I think that we should support projects like the Webb telescope and Curiosity. But it's pretty clear that the current management at NASA is incompetent when we have this situation of projects continually coming in late and massively over budget. The guys in the blue shirts we saw working mission control are doing a great job, but their leadership is failing them. It seems to me that if we could figure out how to reform NASA, reward success and have accountability for failures, we might be able to save money and get more science done at the same time- although I'm not terribly optimistic about that.

  • Re:yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:25PM (#41069271)

    You mean it's hard to predict how long and how expensive it will be to do something literally *nobody has ever done*?

    Well holy shit, you just blew my mind.

    Also, how is leadership failing them? Leadership seems to be doing pretty well, they managed to secure additional funding and time for the engineers and projects that needed it. Leadership would be failing if those projects were canceled after years of work and billions of dollars. I suppose the only failure is that they didn't take the initial estimates, multiply them by 4, and then use those.

  • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:27PM (#41069305)

    That money is being spent in the USA, it is going to our own citizens to advance our own science.

    With your reasoning, just about EVERY SINGLE project this government has EVER undertaken:

    - electrification
    - interstate highway system
    - moon shot
    - internet
    - big dig
    - just about everyting NASA has done

    would be considered a "failure" because ALL of them overran their original budgets.

    If "budgetary concerns" are your ONLY criterion for success or failure, you're CLEARLY one of those "Harvard MBA Spreadsheet" wonks who thinks that all of life and reality can be boiled down into an excel spreadsheet.

  • Re: budgets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neBelcnU ( 663059 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @12:52PM (#41069613) Journal

    Ok, Accepting that flyingsquid's remark and mine will be moderated into Negativeland, I will feed his/her troll-ness just this once.

    Budgets running "over": I agree that you have, using perfect 20/20 hindsight, identified a worrisome trend: rising NASA project costs over time. I will argue against this as a legitimate complaint on 2 fronts:

    A) All government projects rise, at rates at least equal to NASAs. By the time the projects "end" they all appear wildly delayed, and hugely inflated. B1, B2, F22, F35, LCS, Stryker, M2 Bradley, M1 Abrams, F18 (which was the loser in the competition for the F16), NexRad, IRS software upgrades, the list is endless. You've chosen to reframe NASA's behavior as out-of-place, when creeping budgets and timelines are the norm. These "creeps" are in fact reviews, where congress revisits the project's justification and reconsiders continuance or abandonment.

    B) Hindsight is unavoidable, but somewhat useless. All government projects are engaged in for the best reasons at the time. (Including pork: politics and perception are both, unhappily, reasons.) All of them are initially put up with gigantic dark-areas of knowledge. The proponents of the project have to name the best number they can with the available knowledge, then run with it. Each successive increase is a far harder battle than the initial start, and the fact that a project eventually flies means that the best congressional minds decided it was worth it at each of those increases.

    My conclusion: You are offended by a pattern of behavior that is visible looking back, but invisible looking forward. I welcome your proposal to eliminate this problem, but to tote out the tried-and-true phrases like "accountability for failures" and "leadership is failing them" is to cloth Luddism in conservative gowns. I've attempted to make the case that while the system isn't elegant, it is your perception of it that is your problem. This inelegant system produces investments that it believes are worthy, using the best information available at the time, at each step along the way. That it follows a Drunkard's Walk is meaningless if it gets to the desired goal.

  • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Titan1080 ( 1328519 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @02:33PM (#41071337)
    We could build one of these EVERY MONTH, for what we've been spending on the useless waste in afghanistan. and that's been going for over a decade... The money that NASA 'wastes' is a PITTANCE to what gets truly wasted by the 'defense' department and the pentagon.
  • Re:yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paracelcus ( 151056 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2012 @04:34PM (#41073195) Journal

    The Pentagon, DOD, CIA and all the "other" defense related BS that the aging, paranoid "military-industrial complex" spending is classified, the dollar figures released are for public consumption only and are a TINY fraction of the true amount! The REAL amount spent, would dwarf (IMHO) the entire remainder of the federal budget!

    If the USofA spent the same percentage of it's budget on all the above as China or Europe, not only would their be NO DEBT, the federal coffers would be busting at the seams with money for roads, bridges, waterworks, infrastructure, environmental clean up, etc, etc, etc.

    BUT as the defense industry is so very generous to our whores in Washington, we can reliably expect to be at war for the foreseeable future!

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling