The James Webb Space Telescope, already billions of dollars over budget and several years behind schedule, will be delayed by at least another year, to 2015, and will cost $1.5 billion more than current estimates, an independent review panel says. Costs and delays could escalate even further if funding for the project does not increase substantially in 2011 and 2012.
Cost estimates have risen for the ambitious mission, billed as the Hubble Space Telescope's heir, since the idea for the telescope was floated in the late 1980s. At that time, proponents estimated that the project would cost about $1 billion. In 2008, NASA officials upped that amount to $5 billion. Though Congress approved all requested funding for JWST in 2009 and 2010, NASA came back asking for an additional $95 million and $20 million in each respective year.