Now it appears that the Webb space telescope, planned replacement for the Hubble and the single most exciting space project since, I dunno, Mercury, is in trouble, what with the late economic unpleasantness.
As is inevitable when cutting edge make-it-up-as-we-go science meets massive federal bureaucracy, the project is factors over budget and years behind schedule. I’m sure you’re shocked to hear this.
But let’s look at the numbers:
Webb was originally budgeted at about $1.6B, and scheduled for launch around now. Now, it appears 2020 is the earliest realistic launch date, with costs up around $6.8B. Classic case of a run-away government project, and an easy target for this year’s ‘let’s-pretend-we’re-cutting-the-budget’ crowd of Congress-droids.
– ‘freakin’ AWESOME’ – to use a scientific term – hardly describes the Webb. It is the coolest science project EVAH. I, and millions of other geeks hyperventilate just thinking about it. We’d all trade a pile of superconducting super colliders for one Webb.
– Here’s the point pertinent to the current topic of manned space flight – even at $6.8B, you could buy over 73 Webbs for the laughably low-balled price of $500B, which is what wild-eyed optimists, after several bong hits, claim it would cost us to get people to Mars.
And – here’s the real point – we’ll discover more stuff, test more theories, blow more minds, and get a better opportunity to get closer to our Creator – in short, do more science – in a month of Webb operation than we’ll do in a Mars trip.