NASA undoubtedly is one of the biggest space centers in the world and this gratified status is mainly due to the number of multi-billion dollars space observatories that NASA has in place. However, it might be time to say goodbye to these ambitious plans, especially in the time being, mainly because of the shortage of funds.
The James Webb Space Telescope, that cost a whopping $8.4 billion, might be the last big telescope funded by NASA as the budget proposed by the White House will be inadequate to fund the Wide-Field Infrared Service Telescope or WFIRST, that could potentially cost up to $3.2 billion. In fact, the budget allocated for the astrophysics department of NASA is so low that any new space observatory sounds like a distant dream in recent times.
These views were shared by David Spergel, from Princeton University, a renowned astrophysicist from this era. JWST has been deemed as the successor of the famous Hubble Telescope of NASA and at the moment, the launch is scheduled to take place in 2021, after a lot of delays and problems.
The federal budget for the year 2020 gives NASA $20 billion for their projects, which is $500 million short of the expected expenses. One of the biggest department that has seen a financial dip is the agency of science which has gone down to $6.3 billion from $6.9 billion previously. The Astrophysics department suffered the most significant loss where the money was cut down to $865 million from $1.1 billion. Due to these massive losses suffered by NASA, the WFIRST project has been put on hold at this moment because they will be incapable of handling something as big as requiring $3 billion per year for the next seven or eight years.
The current budget proposed by the federal government is not enough to maintain a diverse set of small, mid-range or big budget projects and there has to be a hike of at least $400 million in astrophysics so that NASA can come back to the minimal flagship status.