Speed Reads

outer space

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is getting very expensive

NASA has been working on its new deep-space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, since 1996. Envisioned as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the project is intended to peer even deeper into the farthest reaches of space, and "make the next giant leap" for us to understand how the universe works, Scientific American reported.

Such a large project has, of course, run into its fair share of hurdles over the decades. Its proposed launch date has been pushed back twice in just the past year — previously slated for October 2018, it was first delayed to spring 2019 last September, and then to May 2020 on Tuesday, Space reported. And it's running into an even scarier problem: It's quickly outgrowing its budget estimations.

At the turn of the century, NASA expected the observatory to cost about $1 billion, The Verge reported. By 2010, it had already spent $4.5 billion, stemming from similar delays in its launch time. In 2011, the project was reorganized, with a new launch date in 2018, and Congress allotted a budget of $8.8 billion to get there. But with these new delays, the program is likely to exceed its budget again, which would require Congress to reauthorize the project.

Even with all these setbacks, astronomers are optimistic about the eventual success of the James Webb Space Telescope. Because of the massive amounts of money already invested in the project, it's "too big to fail," Scientific American reported. NASA has pledged to take as much time as necessary to get JWST up and running — hopefully with no more delays or setbacks.

Read more about the program at The Verge.