NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is on schedule and budget for now, space agency officials told members of Congress Wednesday. The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to peer deep into the universe to help scientists learn more about the mechanics of the cosmos. Due to replace the Hubble telescope, the JWST will also beam back amazing images of the cosmos from its place in space, about 932,000 miles from Earth. The $8.8 billion telescope project has also been notorious for cost overruns and delays through the course of its development, but NASA officials confirmed today that the telescope should be ready in time for its 2018 launch.
"This next great space observatory, and indeed the world’s most powerful planned space telescope, remains within budget and on track to meet its October 2018 launch readiness date," NASA's John Grunsfeld said during a House space subcommittee hearing today.
NASA officials are now pulling the JWST together. Engineers are in the process of testing the telescope's tennis court-size sunshield, designed to keep instruments on the craft cool so that they can perform science from deep space. Once launched, the JWST will be tasked with using its sensitive machinery to search for objects in the early universe. The telescope might even be able to help scientists discover how the galaxies of the early universe formed, JWST scientist and Nobel Prize winner John Mather told Congress today.
"We are an exceptional country for even dreaming up something like Webb, and we are close to seeing this dream realized," Mather said.