After major changes in 2011, the Webb project enters 2012 with a new plan. A 2010 independent assessment of the project status, schedule, and budget found several major concerns, and NASA took steps to address each of them. For example, project management at the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) and NASA headquarters was changed; the Webb project is now a separate program office in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, outside of Astrophysics. This gives the project more visibility and oversight. The new schedule for Webb baselines a 2018 launch date and a total cost to launch of $8B. For the first time in the project’s history, the new budget includes adequate contingency in each year until launch, which should minimize the chance of cost overruns or schedule slips. An additional $835M is budgeted for post-launch costs, which include science operations, flight operations, and general-observer grants to the astronomical community.
All 18 of the JWST primary flight segments were completed in 2011 and the four science instruments - NIRCam, MIRI, NIRSpec, and NIRISS - continue to make excellent progress. The first two science instruments, MIRI and NIRISS, have been delivered to GSFC for integration into the ISIM structure in the summer of 2012. The NIRCam and NIRSpec instruments are expected to arrive at GSFC later in 2013. Most of the other project milestones are being met on time or ahead of schedule. The project has created a new web page with an on-line table that summarizes recent accomplishments. The project will update this web site approximately once per month.
Please follow the Project History link if you want more detailed information on the history of the conception and development of JWST.