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James Webb Space Telescope Cost Overruns Adding Up

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the still-worth-it dept.

NASA 153

digitaldc writes "The scale of the delay and cost overrun blighting NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been laid bare by a panel called in to review the project. The group believes the final budget for Hubble's successor is likely to climb to at least $6.5bn, for a launch that is possible in September 2015. But even this assessment is optimistic (PDF), say the panel members. Estimates for JWST's total cost to build, launch and operate have steadily increased over the years from $3.5bn to $5bn. Along with the cost growth, the schedule has also eroded. The most recent projected launch of 2014 has looked under pressure for some time. Charles Bolden has ordered a reorganization of the project and has changed the management at its top. Whereas Hubble sees the Universe mostly in visible light, JWST will observe the cosmos at longer wavelengths, in the infrared. It will see deeper into space and further back in time, to the very first population of stars."

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153 comments

But but but (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207264)

we need more pictures of the sky!

Re:But but but (4, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207314)

Yes we do. A lot more pictures. This thing is a bargain when compared with the things we'll find out about the universe.

My God... (2, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208144)

...it's full of stars!

and a lot of other stuff we've never seen before because we're missing out on everything beyond a certain limit of red-shift and absolute magnitude

But, at some point, we will be looking at the edge of the universe. If it's emitting electromagnetic radiation. Then you can complain.

The scary thing (3, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207306)

is that this will be in an orbit we can't get to if there have to be repairs, much like the Hubble desperately needed. They better get it right the first time.

Re:The scary thing (4, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207344)

They built adaptive optics in this time, though there is a chance either the secondary mirror or the heat shield will fail to deploy (the heat shield is a significant risk as there is no vacuum chamber on earth large enough to fully test it).

Re:The scary thing (3, Interesting)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207380)

I forgot to mention that even if it goes to plan, we still can't upgrade parts either. That's one reason Hubble has had such a long life.

Re:The scary thing (3, Interesting)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207428)

the heat shield is a significant risk as there is no vacuum chamber on earth large enough to fully test it.

There was an analogous problem on Hubble (not wanting to do an end-to-end test due to the facilities required) which is one of the reasons the flawed mirror was not caught before deployment.

Sure, vacuum chambers are expensive to build. Is it worth significantly hampering a $6B project to avoid? There was a cartoon that someone taped to the wall where I worked at GSFC "back in the day" that showed a mouse in a lab coat poking a mouse trap. The caption was "One test is worth a thousand expert opinions."

Re:The scary thing (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207510)

I'm not sure what the cost of building a large enough chamber would be, but I know back when the budget was $3.5B it was deemed to be significant and had secondary affects on budget due to creating a longer project lifetime. Those positions may have changed given the significant cost increase and timeline slip, but it may be too late to change course now.

Re:The scary thing (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207866)

There was a cartoon that someone taped to the wall where I worked at GSFC "back in the day" that showed a mouse in a lab coat poking a mouse trap. The caption was "One test is worth a thousand expert opinions."

I don't suppose you have a link for this?

Re:The scary thing (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208580)

There was a cartoon that someone taped to the wall where I worked at GSFC "back in the day" that showed a mouse in a lab coat poking a mouse trap. The caption was "One test is worth a thousand expert opinions."

I'm sure Safety loved that one.

Re:The scary thing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34208926)

Also find a vacuum chamber with no gravity. The heat shield is "paper thin" and quite large. It doesn't take very well to gravity.

And finally, even if you could test it, how will you account for the 2g+ bumpy ride to orbit?? It can shake stuff lose too. I guess Hubble and Shuttle were not that bad of a solution ;)

Re:The scary thing (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207686)

"Orbit we can't get to" now... (and TBH, if a desperate need would arise, we sort of have the ability already - launch Soyuz (limit the crew to 2, life support will be enough for 2+ weeks), launch heavily modified Progress (what some ISS modules [wikipedia.org] are, sort of), dock, off you go)

Re:The scary thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207698)

Wouldnt it make sense to build 2. One close in so we can find out 'all the issues'. Then launch the second one that has all the bugs worked out?

Re:The scary thing (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208142)

Or, they could build 5 for about the same cost as 1 (since most of the cost is R&D), and leave 4 of them here on Earth. Then they could fix one on the ground and send it up to replace the one that's out there.

Re:The scary thing (1)

ginbot462 (626023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208498)

Why stop there, a telescope for every household!

(Excluding pot smokers, illegal aliens, real aliens - they already have one, people that make under $750,000, Muslims, Gays (Lez is fine, but requires webcams throughout their house), Cross-dressers (that aren't politicians), People living in states with less that 7 electoral votes, cat lovers, vegetarians, alternative medicine practitioners/clients, and felons (that aren't politicians) ).

Re:The scary thing (2, Informative)

AC-x (735297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208322)

And here's why [lmgtfy.com]:

Webb has a large shield that blocks the light from the Sun, Earth, and Moon, which otherwise would heat up the telescope, and interfere with the observations. To have this work, Webb must be in an orbit where all three of these objects are in about the same direction. The answer is to put Webb in an orbit around the L2 point.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo Presidency (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207308)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo Presidency (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207320)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service..

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign.

Still less than war (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207326)

It's still going to cost significantly less than a month in Iraq or Afghanistan....

Re:Still less than war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207474)

But! But! Swatting flies with Buicks at the taxpayers expense!

You're no fun...

Re:Still less than war (2, Insightful)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207668)

what makes you think this wont support the war in Afghanistan ? we can finally find the tallest man in Pakistan - from orbit - at night

Re:Still less than war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34208280)

The telescope is facing AWAY from earth

Re:Still less than war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34209130)

... or a financial bail-out.

Your official guide to the Jigaboo Presidency (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207330)

Congratulations on your purchase of a brand new nigger! If handled properly, your apeman will give years of valuable, if reluctant, service.

INSTALLING YOUR NIGGER.
You should install your nigger differently according to whether you have purchased the field or house model. Field niggers work best in a serial configuration, i.e. chained together. Chain your nigger to another nigger immediately after unpacking it, and don't even think about taking that chain off, ever. Many niggers start singing as soon as you put a chain on them. This habit can usually be thrashed out of them if nipped in the bud. House niggers work best as standalone units, but should be hobbled or hamstrung to prevent attempts at escape. At this stage, your nigger can also be given a name. Most owners use the same names over and over, since niggers become confused by too much data. Rufus, Rastus, Remus, Toby, Carslisle, Carlton, Hey-You!-Yes-you!, Yeller, Blackstar, and Sambo are all effective names for your new buck nigger. If your nigger is a ho, it should be called Latrelle, L'Tanya, or Jemima. Some owners call their nigger hoes Latrine for a joke. Pearl, Blossom, and Ivory are also righteous names for nigger hoes. These names go straight over your nigger's head, by the way.

CONFIGURING YOUR NIGGER
Owing to a design error, your nigger comes equipped with a tongue and vocal chords. Most niggers can master only a few basic human phrases with this apparatus - "muh dick" being the most popular. However, others make barking, yelping, yapping noises and appear to be in some pain, so you should probably call a vet and have him remove your nigger's tongue. Once de-tongued your nigger will be a lot happier - at least, you won't hear it complaining anywhere near as much. Niggers have nothing interesting to say, anyway. Many owners also castrate their niggers for health reasons (yours, mine, and that of women, not the nigger's). This is strongly recommended, and frankly, it's a mystery why this is not done on the boat

HOUSING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger can be accommodated in cages with stout iron bars. Make sure, however, that the bars are wide enough to push pieces of nigger food through. The rule of thumb is, four niggers per square yard of cage. So a fifteen foot by thirty foot nigger cage can accommodate two hundred niggers. You can site a nigger cage anywhere, even on soft ground. Don't worry about your nigger fashioning makeshift shovels out of odd pieces of wood and digging an escape tunnel under the bars of the cage. Niggers never invented the shovel before and they're not about to now. In any case, your nigger is certainly too lazy to attempt escape. As long as the free food holds out, your nigger is living better than it did in Africa, so it will stay put. Buck niggers and hoe niggers can be safely accommodated in the same cage, as bucks never attempt sex with black hoes.

FEEDING YOUR NIGGER.
Your Nigger likes fried chicken, corn bread, and watermelon. You should therefore give it none of these things because its lazy ass almost certainly doesn't deserve it. Instead, feed it on porridge with salt, and creek water. Your nigger will supplement its diet with whatever it finds in the fields, other niggers, etc. Experienced nigger owners sometimes push watermelon slices through the bars of the nigger cage at the end of the day as a treat, but only if all niggers have worked well and nothing has been stolen that day. Mike of the Old Ranch Plantation reports that this last one is a killer, since all niggers steal something almost every single day of their lives. He reports he doesn't have to spend much on free watermelon for his niggers as a result. You should never allow your nigger meal breaks while at work, since if it stops work for more than ten minutes it will need to be retrained. You would be surprised how long it takes to teach a nigger to pick cotton. You really would. Coffee beans? Don't ask. You have no idea.

MAKING YOUR NIGGER WORK.
Niggers are very, very averse to work of any kind. The nigger's most prominent anatomical feature, after all, its oversized buttocks, which have evolved to make it more comfortable for your nigger to sit around all day doing nothing for its entire life. Niggers are often good runners, too, to enable them to sprint quickly in the opposite direction if they see work heading their way. The solution to this is to *dupe* your nigger into working. After installation, encourage it towards the cotton field with blows of a wooden club, fence post, baseball bat, etc., and then tell it that all that cotton belongs to a white man, who won't be back until tomorrow. Your nigger will then frantically compete with the other field niggers to steal as much of that cotton as it can before the white man returns. At the end of the day, return your nigger to its cage and laugh at its stupidity, then repeat the same trick every day indefinitely. Your nigger comes equipped with the standard nigger IQ of 75 and a memory to match, so it will forget this trick overnight. Niggers can start work at around 5am. You should then return to bed and come back at around 10am. Your niggers can then work through until around 10pm or whenever the light fades.

ENTERTAINING YOUR NIGGER.
Your nigger enjoys play, like most animals, so you should play with it regularly. A happy smiling nigger works best. Games niggers enjoy include: 1) A good thrashing: every few days, take your nigger's pants down, hang it up by its heels, and have some of your other niggers thrash it with a club or whip. Your nigger will signal its intense enjoyment by shrieking and sobbing. 2) Lynch the nigger: niggers are cheap and there are millions more where yours came from. So every now and then, push the boat out a bit and lynch a nigger.

Lynchings are best done with a rope over the branch of a tree, and niggers just love to be lynched. It makes them feel special. Make your other niggers watch. They'll be so grateful, they'll work harder for a day or two (and then you can lynch another one). 3) Nigger dragging: Tie your nigger by one wrist to the tow bar on the back of suitable vehicle, then drive away at approximately 50mph. Your nigger's shrieks of enjoyment will be heard for miles. It will shriek until it falls apart. To prolong the fun for the nigger, do *NOT* drag him by his feet, as his head comes off too soon. This is painless for the nigger, but spoils the fun. Always wear a seatbelt and never exceed the speed limit. 4) Playing on the PNL: a variation on (2), except you can lynch your nigger out in the fields, thus saving work time. Niggers enjoy this game best if the PNL is operated by a man in a tall white hood. 5) Hunt the nigger: a variation of Hunt the Slipper, but played outdoors, with Dobermans. WARNING: do not let your Dobermans bite a nigger, as they are highly toxic.

DISPOSAL OF DEAD NIGGERS.
Niggers die on average at around 40, which some might say is 40 years too late, but there you go. Most people prefer their niggers dead, in fact. When yours dies, report the license number of the car that did the drive-by shooting of your nigger. The police will collect the nigger and dispose of it for you.

COMMON PROBLEMS WITH NIGGERS - MY NIGGER IS VERY AGGRESIVE
Have it put down, for god's sake. Who needs an uppity nigger? What are we, short of niggers or something?

MY NIGGER KEEPS RAPING WHITE WOMEN
They all do this. Shorten your nigger's chain so it can't reach any white women, and arm heavily any white women who might go near it.

WILL MY NIGGER ATTACK ME?
Not unless it outnumbers you 20 to 1, and even then, it's not likely. If niggers successfully overthrew their owners, they'd have to sort out their own food. This is probably why nigger uprisings were nonexistent (until some fool gave them rights).

MY NIGGER BITCHES ABOUT ITS "RIGHTS" AND "RACISM".
Yeah, well, it would. Tell it to shut the fuck up.

MY NIGGER'S HIDE IS A FUNNY COLOR. - WHAT IS THE CORRECT SHADE FOR A NIGGER?
A nigger's skin is actually more or less transparent. That brown color you can see is the shit your nigger is full of. This is why some models of nigger are sold as "The Shitskin".

MY NIGGER ACTS LIKE A NIGGER, BUT IS WHITE.
What you have there is a "wigger". Rough crowd. WOW!

IS THAT LIKE AN ALBINO? ARE THEY RARE?
They're as common as dog shit and about as valuable. In fact, one of them was President between 1992 and 2000. Put your wigger in a cage with a few hundred genuine niggers and you'll soon find it stops acting like a nigger. However, leave it in the cage and let the niggers dispose of it. The best thing for any wigger is a dose of TNB.

MY NIGGER SMELLS REALLY BAD
And you were expecting what?

SHOULD I STORE MY DEAD NIGGER?
When you came in here, did you see a sign that said "Dead nigger storage"? .That's because there ain't no goddamn sign..

We spend more money on things much less important. (5, Insightful)

jstrauser (711857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207338)

I don't care if it costs 6.5 trillion. The amount of knowledge gained from peering that far back is invaluable.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (2, Insightful)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207468)

I think sating our curiosity about the beginnings of the universe should take a back seat to our 13 trillion dollar deficit, our 9.6% unemployment rate, our sluggish exports market, our extended overseas military conflicts, our wide-open borders, and our faltering standing as the leader of the free world...but what do I know?

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207516)

Gee, I wasn't aware that presenting conflicting opinions counted as "trolling..."

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207666)

Gee, I wasn't aware that presenting conflicting opinions counted as "trolling..."

It's not. It's Flamebait.

Another option that would have got you the Flamebait moderation would have been if you'd posted something about how we should be trying to cure cancer instead of doing research about anything else.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (2, Interesting)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207730)

That's an unfortunate consequence of the lack of a "Perfect example for the sad state of humanity"-mod option.

May I in turn suggest ending your overseas military conflicts, use the cash to repair your ruined infrastructure, thereby raising employment rates and getting the local economies going? Then you can start to worry about your exports and fix your immigration system. Oh, and fuck that "leader of the free world" thing. I am part of the free world, and I feel no desire whatsoever to have any leader at all, let alone the US.

Compared to the money you guys are pissing into the wind for no return whatsoever, this telescope is a drop in the bucket. And if you have any interest at all to get your exports going, developing your local high-tech talent with projects like this might be a first step...

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207526)

"our 9.6% unemployment rate, our sluggish exports market, our extended overseas military conflicts, our wide-open borders, and our faltering standing as the leader of the free world"

Treat these and the 13 deficit will pop faster than popcorn. No need to touch non-war fueled expeditions.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207640)

Yeah, because stopping investment in science is SO going to make use the leader of the world economy for the next century....

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (2)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207738)

I fail to recognize how a complete replacement of one of the world's most powerful telescopes to gain a semi-marginal improvement in its abilities counts as an investment in science. I don't know, maybe it would be, but the time to recoup our costs would be far in the future to say the least. Let's wait until the economy turns around and for now focus on things less abstractly beneficial...

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207814)

We're keeping smart people employed doing the things they enjoy doing, that's about as good an investment as we can make. I've personally worked with guys that started their careers doing work like this, went on to do work for the military, and ended their careers doing work in industry. Those folks ended up contributing to 3 of 4 major aspects of society (caring for others is the 4th, and most of them did that as well), killing their drive and enthusiasm when they were young would have been a very bad thing for society.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207976)

I'm no scientist, but I thought the whole point of the JWST was that it could do things Hubble can't. Not because it's a "semi marginal" improvement.

From http://michaelgr.com/2007/05/20/the-hubble-space-telescope-vs-new-james-webb-space-telescope/ [michaelgr.com]:

So the James Webb telescope will have about 5.8 times more mirror surface area than Hubble, and it will be able to observe on frequencies that Hubble can’t

That doesn't sound like a semi-marginal improvement. If the JWST had double the mirror surface and operated at the same wavelengths as the Hubble, then maybe you could call it a "semi-marginable" upgrade.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Brannoncyll (894648) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208106)

I think you're missing the point. You seem to have this image in your mind of some guys in white coats loading $6 billion dollar bills into a capsule and firing it off into space. In reality, at least from my experience as a physicist in contact with researchers involved in the LHC, this is far from the truth.

I would wager that a large percentage of the project costs go into the R&D ; the material costs are likely to be very small in comparison. A small part of the R&D money goes to the researchers, who then spend it on rent and food etc, i.e. boosting the local economy and creating jobs. The rest is likely spent on co-developing technology with high-tech industry, an area of the economy that seems to me to be a very sound investment considering the number of out of work graduates that are being churned out each year.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208008)

Of all the $6 billion investments in science the government could be making with our tax dollars, what makes you think that this one is particularly effective at making the economy a better place?

And, in general, if you look at all the $6 billion investments in ANYTHING that at large society would be making if the government hadn't allocated these funds to this project, is the telescope really going to generate a better rate of return? The stock market (where people invest money in the most fungible way possible) is expected to take a $6 billion investment and return $240 million a year + inflation. Can this telescope return that, plus its depreciation costs, plus whatever it takes to keep it going, by providing Science?

(I'd be interested in whether people think it can.)

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34208474)

Yeah, because stopping investment in science is SO going to make use the leader of the world economy for the next century....

You don't spend $20 on a ticket to a museum or art gallery or concert when you can't afford to put on the table.

Investment in science and research will not be cut to zero, but there are different priorities for things.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208782)

How about close 90% of our overseas bases (leaving enough to have local sea and air ports in each theater), get the hell out of Iraq, kill a few more weapons platforms that the military doesn't even want, cut farmer subsidies for food we end up giving away, and then talk about cutting science funding?

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (3, Insightful)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207920)

Divide the 6.5 billion amongst all of the problems you list and you'll see how insignificant it is. That's like saying you should not buy that big screen TV because there are people in the world that are starving to death right now. Sure, it may be true that there are people starving to death, but not buying that big screen tv is not going to save them. It is a bigger issue.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208020)

You chose a poor example.

Sure, buying one big screen TV (just like building one JWST) won't really make a negative difference about utilization of resources and where they are directed, but...

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208002)

I think sating our curiosity about the beginnings of the universe should take a back seat to our 13 trillion dollar deficit,

There is a difference between deficit and debt. In any event, while the cost (and cost overrun) on the JWST is a substantial amount of money, it is very small relative to the total debt or annual deficit. The complete NASA budget is less than $20 billion per year; even if the government chooses to destoy its entire space program it's a useless place to try to resolve the deficit. If you want to free up a couple of billion dollars in construction costs, cancel a Virginia-class attack submarine, or pare back the order for F-35 fighter jets (15 jets - out of a contracted 2443 - would save two billion dollars).

our 9.6% unemployment rate,

How does a high-tech project, employing highly-trained workers to the full extent of their abilities (and not incidentally keeping them in the United States, rather than seeing them move to other jurisdictions) hurt employment?

our sluggish exports market,

How does a space telescope hurt U.S. exports?

our extended overseas military conflicts,

How does building a space telescope affect overseas military operations?

our wide-open borders,

Yep, those damn Canadians keep getting in. Fortunately, the JWST is an infrared instrument, so in its off-hours it can be used to scan for illegal immigrants crossing the border under cover of darkness.

and our faltering standing as the leader of the free world...

How is shutting down prestigious research projects going to improve the United States' global reputation? Let's let China do the cutting-edge space research from now on -- that ought to bolster our standing on the global stage. (What the hell does "leader of the free world" mean, anyway? I really hope it's more "we're a shining example" and less "we're in charge because we're scariest".)

but what do I know?

Not nearly as much as you'd like to think, apparently. The U.S. federal civil service has close to two million employees -- not counting the armed forces or the post office. Why is it that people assume that an organization of that scale is only capable of doing one thing at a time, and that there cannot be multiple concurrent projects directed at multiple priorities?

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209082)

Why is it that people assume that an organization of that scale is only capable of doing one thing at a time, and that there cannot be multiple concurrent projects directed at multiple priorities?

Looking through the prism of their own limitations. A way to generally distrust "the scientists" too.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34208874)

Only that projects like this keep thousands of scientists, engineers and machinists employed in the US, Canada and Europe. They in turn support the local economy by spending money the money. Furthermore, all the parts for space projects are usually manufactured within the country of origin (especially since many space projects have ITAR restrictions). Aerospace is probably one of the last industries still alive in North America.

Lastly, where do you think many of our fancy technologies come from? These are huge R&D projects that result in many spin-off companies giving you anything from carbon fiber bikes to night vision in your car so you don't hit any deer.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34209138)

That's over QE2 is here, currently we are down 118 in the market, stop holding on to the past and do something long term for the future.
Unless you are a boomer who thinks quarter to quarter only 4 months out you should do great works that actually occur over years not months.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207498)

I don't care if it costs 6.5 trillion. The amount of knowledge gained from peering that far back is invaluable.

Pay me $6.5 trillion and I'll put up two space telescopes! I'll keep the $6.49 trillion or so in change, of course. One has to be adequately compensated for providing the "invaluable"!

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (2, Interesting)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207624)

For that cost you can build many smaller satellites and many many more land-based observatories. It's not really worth the price NASA asks for.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0, Redundant)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208132)

Smaller satellites implies smaller mirrors. The resolving power of a telescope depends on the diameter of its mirror. So you could have many small telescopes in orbit and only get fuzzy, unclear images, or one big one that delivers sharp images, and due to the mirror size is more sensitive to boot.

As for land-based, build a 100 meter mirror and scope and you will see.... nothing in infrared, which is what the JWST is designed for. The earth's atmosphere absorbs and re-radiates low infrared which means all you can really see is a sort of dull glow. Yes you can see stars, but the really faint light you want is drowned out by atmospheric emissions. That's why the JWST has to be kept so cold, because thermal emissions from the mirror would drown out any light signal from truly faint objects.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208152)

Though if those few satellites will fly in formation, as an interferometer... (yes, not what the parent meant / such formation telescopes, likely much more expensive than JWST, are coming...at some point)

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207628)

i c whut u did then

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207826)

For $6.5T, build a ship to fly there, not just look around. That'd be enough to build a city on the moon, not just a scientific outpost. A self-sustaining city is another matter, but not impossible since there's enough water.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

MorpheousMarty (1094907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207908)

I don't care if it costs 6.5 trillion. The amount of knowledge gained from peering that far back is invaluable.

I agree, but a project that is 4 years off, is already running over budget and is expected to get worse is worrying. These are signs of a project with intrinsic problems that will probably get in the way of the research trying to be done. It is worth considering starting over in order to avoid a multi billion dollar boondoggle. If the project is projected to cost more than twice as much as planned, odds are their plan wasn't very good, and will continue to cause problems.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208004)

And what would we use that knowledge for?
Solving hunger?
Educating the poor?
Eradicating disease?

It is a 'nice to know' but really has zero impact on anything of any significance. Just like we know there are two large bubbles at the center of the galaxy. Whoop-de-do! That matters why?

6.5b is one 99c hamburger for every person on the planet.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208778)

That supercomputer you're sitting in front of, molecular biology, genetic engineering, mass drug studies done using molecular modeling, they're all possible because of science. Science is an area, to be frank, still in its infancy. These big projects like JWST, by studying the structure of the universe, ultimately feed knowledge back into a refinement of our understanding of subjects like quantum mechanics.

Will JWST feed a hungry child? No. Will the science from JWST help improve our understanding of physics? Yes. Will that indirectly lead to an improvement in the ability to grow more food, provide ready access to information, create better medicines. I think we have has already proven that to be the case.

Re:We spend more money on things much less importa (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209256)

Science is an area, to be frank, still in its infancy.

You can't be so frankly sure of that. OTOH... [tufts.edu]

These aren't cost overruns (2, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207402)

They just underestimated the original bid to get the contract. That's just the way things work.. SNAFU

Re:These aren't cost overruns (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207426)

This is why I would love to see the government sue people who grossly underbid contracts.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207834)

You will never get anything done because nobody wants to know what the full costs are upfront.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

DwySteve (521303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207860)

This is why I would love to see the government sue people who grossly underbid contracts.

Governments typically ask companies to bid on things that may or may not be possible, then force them to put a price on it. Now you want them to be sued as well?

I can believe that companies keep using the same methodologies to make these bids, but don't understand why the government doesn't turn a wary eye to these predictions and multiply the given amount based on historical data. Then again, if nothing like this has ever been attempted it's hard to rely on historical data. No two projects will be over cost and over budget in the same way.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208250)

They can't, because the bidding process indemnifies the contractor.

In return, the contractor has to comply with the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA [lectlaw.com], which will put contractor personnel in jail if there are any lies being told, whether through knowing underbidding or knowing overbidding.

TINA is a bitch. It requires the company to tell the government the truth. Not just the person writing the bid. So if the person writing the bid calculates X dollars for N units of wing-nut Z in a fighter jet, but a person at the company's subsidiary knows those wing nuts can be bought for YX dollars, then the person writing the bid, and possibly the entire chain of authority above him, can end up in the can.

But, once you use TINA, all decisions are the government's, so all fault is the government's. And any changes and overruns are approved by the government in real-time, so they're indemnified, too. At the top are the political denizens of government, who, when they realize they've put their foot in it by allowing all these "reasonable" changes and overruns to the point that the total has become embarassing, suddenly turn around in their chairs and point fingers at anyone but themselves until the cameras turn off.

No they shouldn't, and they wouldn't win anyway. (3, Informative)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208294)

You always bid on the best case scenario, then specify that changes will require additional funding. If you do the work you said you'd do, at the cost you said, it's not really true that you've underbid it. The problem is that there are things that are unknowable going in. You could try to account for them by adding 50% or 100% to your bid, but that will put you at a disadvantage to the other bidders, and you'd just be pulling numbers out of your ass anyway.

The bidding process is to select the cheapest/best contractor for the job, not to get a realistic idea of the overall project cost. The bean-counters in Washington know that, but they don't want to put a realistic cost in a bill because they know it won't get funded. Realistically, for this kind of project they should always add 100% or 150% to the bid price to allow for unforeseen problems. Even for a typical infrastructure project they should probably add at least 50% to accommodate change-orders. Then if it's to expensive, they should cancel the project from the start, rather than waiting till they've sunk most of the cost to decide to cancel it.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207542)

That is inherent process to all bids, but what can we do instead of bids? Another problem is probably "goodtohaveism". Stretching the requirements and adding up stuff usually ends up in vicious cycle shooting through the ceiling.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207844)

By making the contract actually binding.

"We agree to pay you $X on this schedule, you agree to deliver these milestones on that schedule."

if they don't deliver according to the schedule then they don't get paid.

Of course that will result in significantly higher bid costs, but that's the idea surely.

And of course the spec will need to not be changed every time some politician or beaurocrat sees wants to look busy.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208120)

As anyone who has done any project of significant size, there are always change orders that end up ballooning the price of the contract. It's not that the vendor keeps stalling and adding more billable hours -- open ended contracts like that are relatively rare.

No complex project has a 100% complete spec, there are always things found along the way. "You know those halogen lights we spec'ed 5 years ago? Now we want LED lighting, how much will that cost us?" "I know we said wanted this software to do X last year, but our business changed and we need it to do Y too." "We field tested the motors you're using and even though they are within spec, we found that they cause resonant vibrations in another part of the device, we need you to use different motors or better vibration dampening"

Not everything can be anticipated ahead of time, especially when you're developing a one-off product with a development schedule spans a decade. If a change order is significant enough, then the contract gets rebid -- and depending on the scale of the change, you may lose all of the work that the initial vendor did.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34208588)

Uhhhh, yah, can I get that telescope in midnight blue instead of red please? K thnx bye

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207986)

If they want look good, they have to employ Mr. Scot's method of miracle working. Overbid, and come out way under. They'll be guaranteed another contract for sure.

Re:These aren't cost overruns (1)

ThatOtherGuy435 (1773144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208052)

Don't forget the IWANTAPONYisms, where the dipsticks who are in control want all sorts of shit that often isn't technically in scope (Or is, but was underbid because it wasn't specified - like printing 30 copies of every deliverable [instead of 1] and having to have additional manpower to actually DO that) but contractors have to bend over backwards to do anyways, since you can't risk losing the goodwill of the client.

Why yes, I have had to put up with this crap, why do you ask?

Can the US do anything not late & over-budget? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207560)

787... late, over budget.
JWST... late, over budget.
Constellation... late, over budget.
F35... late, over budget.

Seems like every major program is struggling, but 30, 40, 50 years ago we could do amazing things.

What happened?

Re:Can the US do anything not late & over-budg (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207886)

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency.

In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in man's history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the testing of a Saturn C-1 booster rocket, many times as powerful as the Atlas which launched John Glenn, generating power equivalent to 10,000 automobiles with their accelerators on the floor. We have seen the site where five F-1 rocket engines, each one as powerful as all eight engines of the Saturn combined, will be clustered together to make the advanced Saturn missile, assembled in a new building to be built at Cape Canaveral as tall as a 48 story structure, as wide as a city block, and as long as two lengths of this field.

Within these last 19 months at least 45 satellites have circled the earth. Some 40 of them were made in the United States of America and they were far more sophisticated and supplied far more knowledge to the people of the world than those of the Soviet Union.

The Mariner spacecraft now on its way to Venus is the most intricate instrument in the history of space science. The accuracy of that shot is comparable to firing a missile from Cape Canaveral and dropping it in this stadium between the 40-yard lines.

Transit satellites are helping our ships at sea to steer a safer course. Tiros satellites have given us unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms, and will do the same for forest fires and icebergs.

We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them. And they may be less public.

Re:Can the US do anything not late & over-budg (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209210)

Crash projects and collective dick-waving are not the best approach though - remind me again how is that Moon effort going along?

Re:Can the US do anything not late & over-budg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207904)

Are you saying that the first airplanes came in on time and on budget or that Constellation is less amazing than an aircraft carrier built during WW2?

Predictable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207592)

Akins laws of spacecraft design #29:

To get an accurate estimate of final program requirements, multiply the initial time estimates by pi, and slide the decimal place on the cost requirements one place to the right.

http://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/old_site/academics/akins_laws.html

Re:Predictable... (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207764)

"To get an accurate estimate of final program requirements, multiply the initial time estimates by 10*pi".

There, isn't that more elegant?

Re:Predictable... (1)

zn0k (1082797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34209230)

No, because only time requirements are multiplied by pi, and only pi. Cost requirements are multiplied by ten.

Big Science in the US (5, Informative)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207638)

Every big scientific project looks bad when projected onto the one-dimensional axis of cost. They're big, expensive, and the accounting for them is a discipline onto itself. None of this has anything to do with science. The scientific goals of the JWST are laudable and important, and as a society, we need to figure out how to get them done. The US has a substantial problem in this area. The nature of the US congress is that it cannot force any future congress to do anything, include paying for a project they proposed last year. So, every single year, every big scientific endeavor has to fight for its life. Every big project will run into problems and roadbumps along the way, but these are smart people and they can figure it out. The difficulty of the project makes it more important that it be completed, rather than less.

But what inevitably happens is that Big Science Project reaches some cost overrun or technical snag, or national economics takes a temporary downturn. Gloom-and-doom articles are written. Review panels are formed. Said project gets cancelled next year, after an investment of billions of dollars. You might call it Ares [wikipedia.org] or the Superconducting Supercollider [wikipedia.org]. Meanwhile, countries with more stable funding structures are able to achieve the same goals. You might call them China, India, the ESA or CERN.

I'm a theoretical physicist. Early in my career, the Superconducting Supercollider was cancelled. It was three times the energy of the LHC. Had the US had the balls to carry forward with that project, we would have discovered the Higgs boson and answered many important questions, as much as 10 years ago already. Yeah there were some political and funding problems but these could have been fixed. I spent several years at CERN. They have a funding structure in which member states pay into a common pot as a fraction of their GDP as an international treaty. When there are cost overruns or problems (recall the magnet explosion last year that shut down the LHC for a year?) the fixed budget means it just takes longer. The project does not risk cancellation. We still get the important science results. As a consequence, they can go for more speculative, long-term research. They are able to drive advancement. The next CERN collider, CLIC [wikipedia.org] has been in the planning and develoment stages for years. It uses new experimental (and still not fully proved) kind of particle acceleration.

The US will lose in the global science race unless it can establish a more stable funding structure for big science projects, and use them to drive scientific advancement. These things are important. Through the JWST and LHC we gain invaluable knowledge about the structure of our universe. Don't let short-sighted penny pinching bureaucrats or alarmist journalism deprive us of scientific progress.

Re:Big Science in the US (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208350)

From guys I know who work on these things, when you invent something completely new and cutting edge for launch into space, referring to the costs as a "budget" is kind of silly. It's an "estimate" at best. yeah, maybe the estimates need to be better, but the media like to portray it like like Starbucks putting up their next coffee shop in a mall, with tidy little plans and budgets you can hire guys hanging out over at Home Depot to do the base work. Then again this is the same pack of moronic miseryshits who had everyone thinking a missile got fired of the coast of California this week, so you can't expect much.

The industry has also shot itself in the foot on this. There is so much unpaid and unrecorded overtime thanks to the whole "exempt" employee concept. Even if you make a truly honest attempt to make a bid based on previous designs, you could be 100% or more out of kilter.

Re:Big Science in the US (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208848)

The industry has also shot itself in the foot on this. There is so much unpaid and unrecorded overtime thanks to the whole "exempt" employee concept. Even if you make a truly honest attempt to make a bid based on previous designs, you could be 100% or more out of kilter.

The lowest credible bid gets the money. No reason not to shoot yourself in the foot multiple times, if you get hundreds of millions in profits each time you do so.

Re:Big Science in the US (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208364)

recall the magnet explosion last year that shut down the LHC for a year?

I'm currently playing Angry Birds [rovio.com] on my phone, so, yes, hilariously [web.cern.ch].

BTW, I highly recommend both the LHC [twitter.com] and Angry Birds. The latter is highly playable, apparently the physics are correct (at least, the gravity is [wired.com], not so sure about feathered-friend vs. oaken plank [rovio.com]) and all puzzles are solvable at the maximum bonus if you have the touch.

Re:Big Science in the US (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208624)

Ares V was probably not the best idea though - yes, its goals and performance commemorable; but they would also mean quite rare launches, limiting bang-for-buck, to say the least. Probably better to focus on something medium-sized, pushing it ever closer towards mass production and usage - and if more throw weight is required, plan for modularity (something like from Angara 1.1 to Angara 7)... and if that's not enough, two or three launches + orbital docking. Even on Earth we built ocean-going ships in segments now.

PS. I wonder, perhaps similarly overoptimistic goals contributed to the undoing of Superconducting Supercollider? (SS? Did the same person chose the name for USB SuperSpeed?... ;p (Schutzstaffel))

Re:Big Science in the US (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208784)

What I see here is abject laziness and a remarkable disrespect for where the money comes from. First, let's start with the implication that Big Science is necessary to remain globally competitive. Big science takes dollars from small science (that is, it has large opportunity costs compared to its benefits even when you restrict your attention to scientific output). It's not entirely a zero sum game, but close enough on the time scale of science projects. Small science is where the actual value of science is. It's the kind of research that leads to actual economic benefit like integrated circuits, new medical devices, or better algorithms. Big science is also far more subject to corruption and other disruptive political processes (as you noted).

The two examples you gave of big projects were notably awful. The SSC went way over budget, triple its original estimates, before it was canceled. And Ares is not a science project at all, but intended as a manned launch vehicle comparable to the Delta IV Heavy (a launch vehicle which already launches now!). There also was idle talk of a Ares V, which would have been capable of lifting 200 tons to orbit, assuming it ever got built. I saw that promise as more of a bait and switch. You pay for Ares V and you get Ares I. But these are launch vehicles not science missions. If NASA wanted to do manned science missions, they could have used Delta IV and Atlas V rockets now rather than Ares I a few years from now or Ares V a decade or more from now. Instead NASA burned almost $10 billion through the beginning of 2010 to duplicate existing launch capability with zero scientific content.

Meanwhile, countries with more stable funding structures are able to achieve the same goals. You might call them China, India, the ESA or CERN.

The ESA is the only "country" that qualifies. China and India do "big science", but it's not in the same league. While they have the LHC [wikipedia.org], which does seem to be working well, they also have ITER [wikipedia.org] which will do a great job of demonstrating that commercial fusion is still more than twenty years away. The ESA is also a major contributor to the ISS [wikipedia.org] another international disaster that is going well.

I'm a theoretical physicist. Early in my career, the Superconducting Supercollider was cancelled. It was three times the energy of the LHC. Had the US had the balls to carry forward with that project, we would have discovered the Higgs boson and answered many important questions, as much as 10 years ago already.

The US would also be out at least another $10 billion (and probably a lot more than that given how the costs were ballooning). Congress didn't think those important questions were all that important, and IMHO they were right. I find your disregard for the cost of the SSC to be pretty callous.

They have a funding structure in which member states pay into a common pot as a fraction of their GDP as an international treaty. When there are cost overruns or problems (recall the magnet explosion last year that shut down the LHC for a year?) the fixed budget means it just takes longer. The project does not risk cancellation.

Here comes the laziness. Why shouldn't a major project experience the risk of cancellation especially given the number of failures over the decades? We're not speaking of minor setbacks like the magnet explosion, but things like a tripling of the cost of the project without adequate explanation. Cancellation needs to remain an option else we run the risk of out of control parasites, such as the ISS, consuming huge portions of society's resources.

The US will lose in the global science race unless it can establish a more stable funding structure for big science projects, and use them to drive scientific advancement. These things are important. Through the JWST and LHC we gain invaluable knowledge about the structure of our universe. Don't let short-sighted penny pinching bureaucrats or alarmist journalism deprive us of scientific progress.

The US used to have a more stable funding structure. We called them "trusts" and "endowments". Back before the First World War, the US's scientific infrastructure was mostly privately funded, yet still among the best in the world. For example, large aperture telescopes were the big science projects of the day and the largest of them were funding by the rich of the day. Even now, some of the newest telescopes are mostly privately funded (such as the Keck Observatory [wikipedia.org]).

As I see it, the problem isn't the stability of the funding, but rather that we're chosing the easy, low accountability money from public funding over a more stable and socially legitimate (that is, the money is willingly given to the project not appropriated by force from other parties) source. SPublic funding does allow access to one or more orders of magnitude more money than you can get from private sources, but it also is money that came from someone who didn't willing contribute.

Audits (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207650)

Instead of a telescope, maybe the scientists could do with a microscope to see where all these costs have gone.

Re:Audits (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207806)

They know where they have gone. Sheesh. This is why there is a paper trail, documentation, and accountant offices.

This issue lies squarely on the contractor, not NASA.

Simple way to have avoided this crisis (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207714)

See their biggest mistake was the name, if they had just named it the James Woods telescope instead it would have been under budget and on time. But they didn't listen and now it's too late.

Re:Simple way to have avoided this crisis (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207822)

And then they could get it into space with just a trail of candy.

"Mmm, piece of candy", "mmm, piece of candy", "mmm piece of candy"

Just gives NASA more time. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207794)

. . . to finish the Ares Heavy Lifter. I mean, what's the point of having the Space Telescope ready for launch if there's no launch vehicle to put it in orbit?

I'm gonna make a prediction here (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207900)

This will go on for several more years, wasting at least one billion $ (possibly considerably more). Periodically, a new slate of promises will emerge (with some cool looking computer animation at the press conference), accompanied by setbacks that always leave the launch just a few years out of reach. At one point NASA will simply stop talking about the project, and the press (with the attention span of a 3-year-old-child) will never follow up on it or ask why it failed or why so much was wasted on it (having moved on to a whole new bunch of promises about other exciting programs which will also ultimately go nowhere).

Rename it the "James Woods Space Telescope" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34207994)

...then he and Seth MacFarlane will pay the tab.

Consider Other Options? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208124)

The Moon has a relatively stable orbit, so far. Telescopes could then be placed on adjustable platforms. Maintenance could handled on sight as needed, by calmer minds. Long term issues could be more easily evaluated, by more senior staff.

Re:Consider Other Options? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208312)

This other option necessitating much higher delta-v (arrival at the Moon, structure which needs to survive touchdown and operation in gravity) plus permanently blocked from large portion of the sky by the Moon itself (location at one of the peaks of eternal light near the poles would be likely, for power). L2 isn't that unstable - and if something goes wrong it's easier to get there than to the surface of the Moon. Long term doesn't matter too much, eventually you have a space weathered junk anyway.

NASA is the number one tea party target (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#34208806)

Much of the public believes NASA's portion of the budget is much larger than its one percent. Plus cutting NASA doesnt affect core federal functions they believe. Most federal science will be under budgetary attack the next few years.
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