The White House’s $19.9 billion NASA budget outline released Monday would continue development of NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule and begin the deployment of a mini-space station around the moon as soon as 2022, but the proposal would cancel WFIRST, a flagship-class astronomy mission planned for launch in the mid-2020s.
NASA’s $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope has completed critical end-to-end testing in a giant vacuum chamber at the Johnson Space Center, proving the telescope will work properly in the deep cold of space, bring starlight to a sharp focus and precisely track its astronomical targets when launched in 2019.
Technical problems discovered during ground testing of U.S.-built detectors for the European Space Agency’s Euclid astronomy mission will delay the completion of the telescope’s scientific payload, jeopardizing the observatory’s 2020 launch target, the head of NASA’s astrophysics division said last week.
On Aug. 17, gravity waves rippled through the solar system, slightly squeezing and stretching the space Earth occupies, the result of a catastrophic collision of two compact-but-massive neutron stars, producing a so-called “kilonova” explosion that seeded the local environment with a flood of heavy elements ranging from gold and platinum to uranium and beyond, scientists said Monday.
Extra testing of the James Webb Space Telescope and delays in assembling the powerful observatory will push back the $10 billion mission’s launch by at least six months to early 2019, officials announced last week as the telescope successfully completed an extensive performance test inside a cryogenic vacuum chamber in Houston.