Download A Performance Assessment of NASA's Astrophysics Program by National Research Council, Division on Engineering and PDF

By National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Board on Physics and Astronomy, Space Studies Board, NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee

Whereas a few awesome discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics have taken position over the last two decades, many very important questions stay. persisted development in those fields would require NASA's management. to aid ensure if NASA can meet this problem, Congress, within the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, directed the employer to have "the functionality of every department within the technological know-how directorate...reviewed and assessed by means of the nationwide Academy of Sciences at 5-year intervals." In early 2006, NASA requested the NRC to behavior such an evaluate for the agency's Astrophysics department. This record offers an review of the way good NASA's present software addresses the suggestions, targets, and priorities defined in prior Academy stories. The document presents an research of growth towards understanding those concepts, objectives, and priorities; and a dialogue of activities that may be taken to optimize the clinical worth of this system within the context of present and forecasted assets.

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Also, the agency continues to suffer from a large number of vacancies in key positions in SMD. For example, in June 2006, 6 of the 10 directorships and deputy directorships of the ive SMD divisions were either vacant or occupied by acting personnel. • Programmatic instability. Numerous decisions have been made over protracted periods. For example, the administration’s failure, for well over a year, to approve an Ariane launch for JWST led to a costly delay in the mission. In the wake of the Columbia accident, a number of internal NASA decisions were made and then reversed on whether to proceed with the next Hubble servicing mission.

The development of JWST has not been without problems. 3 billion, roughly $2 billion (in FY 2006 dollars) more than the AANM decadal survey anticipated. This cost increase can be traced to a number of factors. The cost estimate provided by NASA to the AANM decadal survey committee was unrealistically low. 5 billion through to launch. Since that baseline was established, the cost of the project has increased by nearly another billion dollars. 8This section does not discuss the ARISE mission, which has not been funded and does not appear in any NASA roadmap.

CSOFIA has since been reinstated by NASA, with a goal of beginning science operations in 2012. dAANM recommended a diverse range of NASA mission sizes, but did not identify particular Discovery- or Explorer-class missions. eDenotes a Beyond Einstein program mission. 9 Another third of the increase ($386 million) is due to growth in the cost of the mission. The remaining increase ($125 million) is attributable to additional contingency budget reserves being added to the project. 10 The JWST project has had two descopes to date, including a change from an 8-m-class to a 6-m-class mirror and a reduction of short-wavelength capability.

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