Author Topic: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion  (Read 126334 times)

Offline Prober

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #260 on: 02/11/2012 02:24 AM »
The TEA Party in Space was correct when many here thought they were wrong.  This isn't TPIS saying this... this is Aviation Week:

NASA will take only an $89 million cut in its topline spending request for fiscal 2013 compared to this year’s operating plan, sources said Friday, but the $17.711 billion NASA budget proposal due out Feb. 13 will axe the joint effort with Europe to return samples from Mars, to pay for development overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news%2Fawx%2F2012%2F02%2F10%2Fawx_02_10_2012_p0-423848.xml&headline=NASA

NASA is in for a very rude awakening once those who pay no attention to NASA suddenly start focusing on the horrible track record of JWST, CxP, ect.  NASA is only .42 of the budget.

VR
RE327

Does this break the agreement NASA made with Congress in FY 2012 just a few months ago?
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Offline DaveH62

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #261 on: 02/12/2012 02:54 AM »
The TEA Party in Space was correct when many here thought they were wrong.  This isn't TPIS saying this... this is Aviation Week:

NASA will take only an $89 million cut in its topline spending request for fiscal 2013 compared to this year’s operating plan, sources said Friday, but the $17.711 billion NASA budget proposal due out Feb. 13 will axe the joint effort with Europe to return samples from Mars, to pay for development overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news%2Fawx%2F2012%2F02%2F10%2Fawx_02_10_2012_p0-423848.xml&headline=NASA

NASA is in for a very rude awakening once those who pay no attention to NASA suddenly start focusing on the horrible track record of JWST, CxP, ect.  NASA is only .42 of the budget.

VR
RE327

This isn't a one year reduction, nor are we talking about one year programs. Mars Sample Return has been sitting on the back burner for a while, and while obviously JWST continued cost growth is a big part of why it's not moving forward, in the long term plans that originally supported both happening, the budget for 2012 and 2013 were a lot more.

For example, the 2010 budget, already post-Constellation and deep into the recession, forecast $18.6 billion in each of 2012 and 2013.

In 2009, when Constellation was still active, 2013 was forecast for $19.4 billion.

Compared to what they were expecting when making the plans that put us in this situation, the decrease is a lot more than $79 million.

I'm not arguing against your point in the least, but it's worth pointing out that even without projects facing ballooning costs, NASA is heavily dependent on a stable budget.
Looking over history, doesn't NASA in fact have a stable budget, as an entity? As a project driven organization, the budget may be erratic, but as a whole, it has been steady since unwinding Apollo. The attached link shows the budget back to the 1960's and it moves, but as a whole has steadily grown in real dollars. Is this not correct? As an outsider looking in, it could seem that goals and missions have not been stable. I'm interested in the opinions of the people who have lived through this.

Is this a fair assessment? If it is at least partially, is the cause NASA not selling a consistent vision to Congress and one that Congress can buy into, or is it a fickle Congress and series of Presidents forcing inconsistent goals on the organization? Is there something else I'm missing?
(The chart ends in 2000, but the budget has increased modestly since then)
http://www.rain.org/~bmuniz/Space/nasa_budget_history_total_budget.pdf


Offline QuantumG

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #262 on: 02/12/2012 03:16 AM »
There's eight different ways of calculating inflation.. you can pick which ever one gives you the result you want. What no-one disputes is that there was a hump in the Apollo funding which has never been duplicated. That represents commitment by the Congress.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #263 on: 02/12/2012 07:02 AM »
Looking over history, doesn't NASA in fact have a stable budget, as an entity? As a project driven organization, the budget may be erratic, but as a whole, it has been steady since unwinding Apollo. The attached link shows the budget back to the 1960's and it moves, but as a whole has steadily grown in real dollars. Is this not correct? As an outsider looking in, it could seem that goals and missions have not been stable. I'm interested in the opinions of the people who have lived through this.

Is this a fair assessment? If it is at least partially, is the cause NASA not selling a consistent vision to Congress and one that Congress can buy into, or is it a fickle Congress and series of Presidents forcing inconsistent goals on the organization? Is there something else I'm missing?
(The chart ends in 2000, but the budget has increased modestly since then)
http://www.rain.org/~bmuniz/Space/nasa_budget_history_total_budget.pdf

Here's the historical NASA budget deflated a number of ways (solid lines) and as fractions of other things (GDP, federal spending, etc.: dotted lines).  Figures beyond FY 2010 are projections.

The solid blue line is the the one that is most nearly constant since the Apollo peak.  This represents NASA's budget deflated with the NASA New Start Index (NNSI).  The NNSI is a measure of inflation tailored to the costs to which NASA is sensitive (see this post for more discussion).  Inflation measured this way has generally been higher than that measured by, for example, the Consumer Price Index, since US space hardware hasn't benefited from low-cost Asian labor the way washing machines have.

Since the NNSI basically represents the inflation rate of aerospace workers' salaries, the constancy of NASA's budget when deflated by the NNSI suggests that NASA's funding profile has been designed to ensure a constant level of employment.  That in turn suggests that to Congress, NASA's principal value is as an employment program.

I suspect, though, that with the pressure now on spending, in the future NASA's budget will tend to be better represented as a fixed fraction of the discretionary budget (the dotted red line), and discretionary spending is going to decrease.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2012 07:04 AM by Proponent »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #264 on: 02/12/2012 02:47 PM »
Looking over history, doesn't NASA in fact have a stable budget, as an entity? As a project driven organization, the budget may be erratic, but as a whole, it has been steady since unwinding Apollo. The attached link shows the budget back to the 1960's and it moves, but as a whole has steadily grown in real dollars. Is this not correct? As an outsider looking in, it could seem that goals and missions have not been stable. I'm interested in the opinions of the people who have lived through this....
http://www.rain.org/~bmuniz/Space/nasa_budget_history_total_budget.pdf

Emphasis mine.  Excellent observation. 

It would be nice to see that chart carried out to 2011.  Another problem for the taxpayer, also on the outside looking in, is that valuable charts like this, are not maintained over the years; that the formats change; that the agency itself doesn't seem to have a committment to the taxpayer to present the facts in such an easily comprehensible fashion.

Proponent's proffered PNG illustrates the format issue.  The first chart showed the actual dollars, compared to a year 2000 baseline dollar, very easy to understand.  While the line graph of the PNG goes up to 2012, it does not inform the taxpayer as well as the previous bar chart.

I don't know who prepared either of these charts, but the authors of the latter one would benefit greatly from a good understanding of Edward Tufte's work.

Here's the historical NASA budget (1a) deflated a number of ways ...

The solid blue line is the the one that is most nearly constant since the Apollo peak.  This represents NASA's budget (1b) deflated with the (2) NASA New Start Index (NNSI).  The NNSI is a measure of inflation tailored to the costs to which NASA is sensitive (see this post for more discussion).  Inflation measured this way has generally been higher than that measured by, for example, the Consumer Price Index, since US space hardware hasn't benefited from low-cost Asian labor the way washing machines have.

Since the NNSI basically represents the inflation rate of aerospace workers' salaries, the constancy of NASA's budget when deflated by the NNSI suggests that NASA's funding profile has been designed to ensure a constant level of employment.  That in turn suggests that to Congress, NASA's principal value is as an employment program.

I suspect, though, that with the pressure now on spending, in the future NASA's budget will tend to be better represented as a fixed fraction of the discretionary budget (the dotted red line), and discretionary spending is going to decrease.

(1) Illustrated, maybe?  The term "deflated" is being used in a way that is not in the dictionary.  This is not a matter of "dumbing down" anything for the poor old taxpayer.  It is a matter of communicating the facts accurately. "Deflating", in this context, does not aid accurate understanding.

(2) Neither does the NNSI.  I've already seen instances where aerospace costs are inflated by the "aerospace inflation rate", which is simply applied to a budget number, as if it is an expected and totally justified added expense.  It is added just because it can be added.  The first chart presented the numbers in terms that everyone (who is interested in our government's budgets) can understand, including, say, members of OMB.

There is the unexpected side effect of the NNSI as well; that it supports the idea of a "jobs program", and that mission accomplishment is not an issue of primary importance in deciding NASA's direction forward.

The format of the first chart is far better than that of the latter, and leads to a better understanding of the costs involved, in general.  For the taxpayer, of course, who, as everyone knows already, has been coached by Romney, Obama and the media, to view with derision, the idea of HSF. 
Part of the derision has to do with the exclusive and elite ivory tower attitude of the so-called "rocket scientists" in charge of project accomplishment.  The obvious unintended side effect is that The Onion articles are seen as being very close to the truth.
« Last Edit: 02/12/2012 03:01 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline DaveH62

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #265 on: 02/13/2012 04:00 AM »
Thank you for the great replies. I feel a bit more educated on the funding.
About aerospace inflation, I get it, but I see other forces that should counteract. With labor markets that can't be automated or offshored, like teachers or doctors (yes, that too may change), the cost of the product tends to rise faster than inflation, until a disruptive entrant arrives.
With space development shouldn't general IT and communication cost trends benefit rocket and general mission costs?  CAD systems for complex rocket development alone seems like it would make an engineer of today 10 times more capable than a similar person in 1969. Digital asset mgmt 3d modeling reduced ground control costs, etc, should be offsetting captive labor theories.
I'm private sector and I see things like Sarbanes Oxley create a lot of overhead. Are there forces holding you guys back, or is it more mission drift from Washington?

Offline Proponent

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #266 on: 02/13/2012 04:35 AM »
Proponent's proffered PNG illustrates the format issue.  The first chart showed the actual dollars, compared to a year 2000 baseline dollar, very easy to understand.  While the line graph of the PNG goes up to 2012, it does not inform the taxpayer as well as the previous bar chart.

I don't know who prepared either of these charts, but the authors of the latter one would benefit greatly from a good understanding of Edward Tufte's work.

I constructed the line chart myself from data found on OMB's website and, for the NNSI, from a NASA website.  Before posting, I looked at the OMB site to see whether more up-to-date data were available, but none were.  I could have updated the figures with appropriations from the relevant Congressional bills, but I presume appropriations aren't exactly the same as outlays reported by OMB (though I don't know exactly what the difference is), so we wouldn't be strictly apples to apples.

As to Tufte, indeed the data in the line chart could be presented more clearly, were someone willing to invest the time.  If you want to do so, the data are attached.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2012 04:43 AM by Proponent »

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #267 on: 02/15/2012 12:43 AM »
It breaks my heart, and those who know me know I have said this many times, that we are losing our science program inside NASA.

How can we re-fly GLORY?  How can we do the hard things when we have projects that inflict damage outside of its field.

And realize the answer is not more money, because NASA will not get any.

Respectfully,
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #268 on: 09/25/2012 05:04 PM »
I am bumping this thread as with all the JWST talk on other threads.

JWST is an Albatross.  It needs to go away.

Perhaps Sequestration will make this a reality and Atrophysics can get back to work.

VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #269 on: 09/25/2012 11:19 PM »
Sequestration won't do that.. if anything, it'll drag out JWST, making it cost more in the long run.
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Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #270 on: 01/11/2013 01:02 AM »
And the beat goes on... de dee dump de dee dump

James Webb Space Telescope squeezing budget, NASA official says

Astronomers may have to brace for a much humbler astrophysics mission following the planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, a NASA official told a ballroom full of astronomers Tuesday.

http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-aas-nasa-james-webb-space-telescope-astrophysics-budget-20130108,0,4527004.story?track=rss

No frigging... crap.  When you have a budget overrun of 550 percent and delay by 9-12 years and you should expect to get spanked.  SMD is slitting its own neck with JWST.  It isn't even serviceable and has a mission expectancy of six years.

VR
RE327
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

Offline Lar

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #271 on: 01/11/2013 01:35 AM »
There's not any realistic way to kill it, is there?
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Offline spectre9

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #272 on: 01/11/2013 08:37 AM »
Unserviceability is a big concern.

The big lesson from Hubble is that things go wrong and human hands are the best way to fix things.

At least I thought so  ???

Are the Hubble servicing missions held up unfairly as shining jewels of the shuttle program?

Offline pippin

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #273 on: 01/11/2013 09:42 AM »
Well, besides Hubble there are half a dozen other space telescopes currently in orbit which have never been serviced and produce just as good results.

Online john smith 19

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #274 on: 01/11/2013 10:10 AM »
Unserviceability is a big concern.

The big lesson from Hubble is that things go wrong and human hands are the best way to fix things.
Not really. Spacecraft designers already knew this. what it did show was they could be upgraded (in fact given the original optical problems rescued might be a better description of the first mission) on orbit provided they were designed to be serviced on orbit and showed how well those techniques could work for real.

Quote
Are the Hubble servicing missions held up unfairly as shining jewels of the shuttle program?
No. They showed some of the aspects that STS was designed to make routine.

I think part of the problem with JWST is that people think of it as being in Earth orbit, but really it's in deep space. It just doesn't get any further into deep space.

It's as big as Hubble, but nowhere near as accessible (relatively) or fixable. IMHO it would have been wise to accept that and figure out some kind of (limited) servicing infrastructure. Either some way to get new parts to it or get it to return to LEO for servicing.

It's unfair but that $3Bn+ overrun would probably pay for an SM big enough for MPCV to go service it.   :(
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #275 on: 01/11/2013 01:11 PM »
And the beat goes on... de dee dump de dee dump

James Webb Space Telescope squeezing budget, NASA official says

I stand by my remarks elsewhere where I agreed with the OIG report.  In that report,  NASA was criticized by a number of credentialed inspectors for being "optimistic" about cost and scheduling issues.  Reading the report more closely reveals the Inspector General's concern that cost and scheduling issues are regularly and deliberately "scrubbed", in order to convince policymakers to continue funding.  This is perfectly legal, as is well known.

"According to interviewees, this can result from deliberately understated contractor proposals, Agency estimates scrubbed to fit a perceived "approvable" budget profile, efforts of commercial lobbyists, and pressure from Congress."
« Last Edit: 01/11/2013 01:12 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Jim

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #276 on: 01/11/2013 02:15 PM »

It's as big as Hubble, but nowhere near as accessible (relatively) or fixable. IMHO it would have been wise to accept that and figure out some kind of (limited) servicing infrastructure. Either some way to get new parts to it or get it to return to LEO for servicing.


No.  If it weren't for the shuttle, HST would have also flown to L2 and would have been cheaper.  Telescopes don't like LEO.

Offline Jim

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #277 on: 01/11/2013 02:17 PM »
Unserviceability is a big concern.

The big lesson from Hubble is that things go wrong and human hands are the best way to fix things.

At least I thought so  ???

Are the Hubble servicing missions held up unfairly as shining jewels of the shuttle program?

wrong.  The lesson from HST was to do proper ground testing.  Shuttle servicing compromised the original design.

Offline Lee Jay

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Re: JWST: Albatross of SMD now $8.8 billion
« Reply #278 on: 01/11/2013 05:23 PM »
There's not any realistic way to kill it, is there?

There's no other way to get the needed data.

Look, it's like this.

If you want to see far back in time you need to look very far away.

Very far away means a lot of dust between you and your target.  Dust absorbs visual wavelengths better than IR.  Very far away also means a big red-shift which also points to IR.

If you want to see very far away stuff with good detail, you need very good resolution.  Now here's the catch - resolution goes down with longer wavelengths and up with aperture.  Further, if you want to see in deep IR, you need your instrument to be very cold, and you need it to be outside of Earth's atmosphere.

So, to see deep into the past, you need to see in IR, and to see that band in detail, the long wavelengths dictate a big scope.  There's no way to make this problem divisible into lots of littler projects because of that issue.  Further, your big scope has to be cold, which dictates getting it far from Earth and into the shade combined with cryogenic cooling.  This means a limited life.

There's just no way around it.  To get this data, you need a big, cold, complex scope far from Earth, in the shade and actively cooled, and missions like that are very expensive.

So you've got your choice - pay the bill or don't get the data.  The surveys have shown this data to be of a very high priority.

Online john smith 19

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« Last Edit: 01/12/2013 11:46 AM by john smith 19 »
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