Dynamics Observatory (SDO), Energetic X-ray Imaging Survey Telescope (EXIST),2 and Advanced Radio Interferometry between Space and Earth (ARISE). Small missions were the Advanced Cosmic-ray Composition Experiment on the International Space Station and the Ultra-Long Duration Balloon program.

In recognition of the convergence of research frontiers in fundamental physics and cosmology, a second NRC study, Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century (Q2C),3 was commissioned specifically to prioritize proposals in this cross-disciplinary area and to take account of exciting developments in cosmology that occurred just after the AANM report was completed. It added a mission to study inflationary cosmology and another to study dark energy (Super Nova Acceleration Probe),4 as well as endorsing earlier recommendations.

More recently, an NRC “midcourse review” of progress in realizing the decadal survey goals concluded that despite the steady stream of discovery since publication of the AANM report, the science program outlined in AANM and Q2C remained valid and no new major, interdecade survey was needed.5 It also concluded that it was imperative to maintain the breadth and balance of the program and that if an expensive Hubble Space Telescope re-servicing mission threatened the program, the community should be involved in assessing the relative value of the choices.

Prospects for Progress Toward Goals

In the FY 2006 NASA operating plan and FY 2007 budget, NASA has proposed major changes to the astrophysics component of the SMD program in FY 2006 and beyond. These result from reductions in out-year budgets in order to accommodate increases in projected costs of specific missions and programs, both internal to the astrophysics program and in other parts of the agency. The large and medium missions set prior to the 2007 program are summarized in Table 2.1.

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is now entering its 17th year of operation and is awaiting its fifth and final space shuttle servicing mission (SM-4), which is planned for 2008, pending a successful shuttle return to flight. According to NASA, the costs for SM-4 are $166 million, $216 million, and $179 million in FY 2006, 2007, and 2008, respectively.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, formerly NGST) was the highest-priority major mission in the AANM report, and it was affirmed by the NRC’s 2005 midcourse review. A major issue in the present context is its cost. NGST was estimated in AANM to cost $1 billion, not including the costs of technology development or operations.6 The current estimate for JWST is $4.5 billion (plus a $0.5 billion international contribution), which includes all the technology development and 10 years of operations.7 The operations budget is estimated to be $1 billion, of which $250 million is projected to be for R&A support for the users of the facility. Launch is now scheduled for 2013. Community support for JWST science appears to be unwavering; however, there is concern about the stability of the cost, schedule, and risk estimates and the implications of further cost growth and schedule slip for the rest of the astrophysics program.


EXIST later became the Black Hole Finder Probe.


National Research Council, Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.


SNAP later became the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM).


National Research Council, “Review of Progress in Astronomy and Astrophysics Toward the Decadal Vision: Letter Report,” The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005.


Full-cost accounting for civil service personnel and NASA center operations has had a significant, though not easily quantifiable, impact on this, and other, mission budgets.


For comparison, the total budget for HST after 15 years of operation is estimated to be $11 billion in current-year dollars.

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