NASA’s absurdly powerful James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of looking into the future to complete itself by 2017.
The project is working to a 2018 launch date, but is once again being threatened by an unconventionally responsible congressional review of its cost and schedule.
The foresight from the James Webb Space Telescope will provide unknown answers to “how to solve a number of baffling problems necessary for the project’s completion,” testified Deputy Project Director Tanner Schmidt during Tuesday’s congressional hearing.
Although still mostly theoretical, this design is the most developed to date. Those designs, which are drawn in pencil on four used paper napkins, were presented as part of Schmidt’s testimony.
Intended as a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb is designed to pursue the goals of studying the creation and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets.
“This project is attempting to observe the most distant objects in the Universe,” said Kevin Lacey, head designer of the telescope’s Tunable Filter Imager, who also participated in Tuesday’s hearing. When asked how this could be possible given the presumed infinite size of the Universe, Lacey’s eyes widened with sudden realization and he began stammering incoherently while turning very pale.
After being escorted out of the room to spend some time in his sensory deprivation chamber, Lacey returned to tell the panel about conceiving the idea for the telescope while under the influence of “at least peyote, and possibly three or four other things.”
Planning began in 1996 under the name Next Generation Space Telescope. It underwent a number of name changes during the next six years, including Deep Space Nine Telescope, Voyager Space Telescope, Enterprise Space Telescope and The Animated Series Space Telescope.
The current name honors the late NASA administrator James E. Webb, who notably saved the Apollo program by pointing out only hours before the inaugural mission that the spacecraft was aimed for the Sun, not the Moon.
Webb requested in his last will and testament that the giant telescope be named after him. His body is also buried inside the telescope, in a cryogenically frozen state.
In an amazing feat of precognition, NASA said the telescope was already able to predict the biggest challenge to its own completion would be congressional funding.
Rep. Norm Dicks (D.-Wash.) said a decision on the telescope’s future will not be made until after the hearings end later this week. But he said continuation of the project looks bleak at the moment.
“These NASA guys need to calm down with the funding requests and realize the federal government has better places to be spending taxpayer money,” Dicks said. “I mean, come on, who do they think they are? A bank?”