Release 137 of 172

NASA Selects Home for Next Generation Space Telescope

Release date: Jun 8, 1998 12:00 AM (EDT)

The duties of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., will be expanded to include the management of science operations for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), NASA officials announced today.

The Space Telescope Science Institute, located at the Johns Hopkins University, has been operating the science program for the Hubble telescope since 1983. The illustration represents the four designs NASA is considering for NGST.

The Full Story
Release date: Jun 8, 1998
NASA Selects Home for Next Generation Space Telescope

The duties of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD, will be expanded to include the management of science operations for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), NASA officials announced today.

The Space Telescope Science Institute, located at the Johns Hopkins University, has been operating the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope since 1983.

"We looked through a microscope to decide who would operate the Next Generation Space Telescope," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "NASA and the scientific community had to determine who had the right facilities, who had the right experience, who was the best. The clear choice was Baltimore's Space Telescope Science Institute."

"The Space Telescope Science Institute has greatly served the interests of the global astronomical community, while producing a steady stream of impressive new discoveries," added Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., Associate Administrator for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. "With its selection as the Next Generation Space Telescope Science Institute, we can now count on at least a seven-year continuation of their outstanding efforts, rather than closing the doors to the facility after the Hubble mission ends in 2010."

The NGST is one of the cornerstone missions of the Astronomical Search for Origins and Planetary Systems, one of the major thrusts of NASA's Space Science program. The NGST will provide a critical follow-on to the Hubble Space Telescope, and continue to deliver world-class optical and infrared science well into the second decade of the new millennium.

A goal of the Next Generation Space Telescope is to observe the first stars and galaxies in the Universe to further our understanding of how it formed following the Big Bang. NGST will have capabilities currently unavailable in existing ground-based or space telescopes.

NGST studies are underway and NASA plans to start formal development of the NGST in 2003, with a projected launch in 2007. NGST has a planned operational lifetime of ten years, and NASA expects that the operations cost for NGST will be in a range from $15 million to $25 million per year. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) currently operates the Space Telescope Science Institute under contract to NASA. Possible adjustments to the existing contract, and the means by which selection and award will be made for NGST work, are under review.

NASA learned from its development of the Hubble that it was important to involve scientists early in the major mission science and operations planning. "We felt it was imperative to identify an NGST Science and Operations Center as soon as possible," said Huntress. "Through our analysis and consultation with our advisory committees, it became apparent that the most cost-effective and scientifically sound way to proceed was to expand the Institute's responsibilities to include the management of NGST."

The Space Telescope Science Institute presently has a combined staff of approximately 470 people, including 143 Ph.D. astronomers and scientists from the U.S. and the European Space Agency.

THE ORIGINS AND SELECTION OF A SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE AND NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS

1976: Dr. Noel Hinners, associate administrator for the NASA Office of Space Science, publicly declares that the Space Telescope science operations will be managed and conducted by a "Space Telescope Science Institute."

1976: The Hornig Committee of the National Academy of Science issues its report, "Institutional Arrangements for the Space Telescope," and recommends to NASA the establishment of an independent science institute to ensure the participation of the astronomical community in the operation and support of the Space Telescope.

1979: NASA issues its "Space Telescope Science Institute Request for Proposals."

1979: The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), with the encouragement of astronomers Arthur Davidsen and Bill Fastie and the generous assistance of Johns Hopkins University President Steve Muller, selects the Homewood campus of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., as the site for its proposed institute.

1981: NASA selects AURA and its industrial partner, Computer Science Corporation (CSC), from five competitive bids. AURA appoints the first director, Dr. Riccardo Giacconi.

1983: Mayor William Donald Shaefer officiates over the opening of the new Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) building on the Homewood campus. In 1983, the STScI staff was approximately 50 people. Today, the STScI staff, including scientists, engineers, European Space Agency members, and CSC employees is about 500 people. Notable Achievements of the STScI

1986-88: Installation and checkout of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Operations Ground System with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, California.

1988: The first digitized image of the entire sky used to point the HST (catalog ready in 1988, digitized image made public in 1993).

1989: The Next Generation Space Telescope Workshop: brought together scientists and engineers from around the world to consider the successor to HST.

1990: Initiated scientific operation of the HST, the most complex scientific spacecraft ever launched.

1990: Recommended a "strategy for recovery" to restore the scientific performance of the HST after the discovery of spherical aberration. Invented the COSTAR corrective instrument for three of the Hubble science instruments.

1993: The First HST Servicing Mission: a fabulous success for all of NASA's partners.

1995: The Hubble Deep Field: humankind's deepest view of the universe. Requiring two weeks of HST time, this data was made available to the public and astronomers in one month and stimulated astronomical interest in the early universe.

1997: The Second HST Servicing Mission: the second generation of modern instruments on HST are made available for research.

1990-98: Bringing the spectacular images and fascinating science of HST to the public.

1990-98: Bringing science from the HST and other NASA missions to educators and students.

THE CONNECTION BETWEEN STSCI AND THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

The Johns Hopkins University is the host institution for the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which is housed in the University's Steven Muller Building on the Homewood Campus in Baltimore, Maryland. JHU is also one of 25 U.S. Universities that are members of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), a private corporation that operates STScI under contract with NASA.

After a National Academy of Sciences panel recommended establishment of a University-based institute to conduct science planning and operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, AURA chose JHU as a partner for its proposal to manage the institute for NASA. In 1981 NASA selected the AURA/JHU team from among several competing organizations and universities, and the STScI was established at Hopkins, initially in what is now Krieger Hall - then known as Rowland Hall and home to the JHU Department of Physics (now Physics and Astronomy). STScI moved into its present facility on San Martin Drive in 1983.

The scientific and technical staff of the Institute benefit from their immediate proximity to a University that is vitally involved in astronomy and space research, while faculty and students at JHU similarly benefit from their close interactions with the staff and visitors to the STScI. Over the years a number of scientists at the Institute have held joint appointments in JHU's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and both undergraduate and graduate students at Hopkins have done research at STScI. Johns Hopkins faculty members, students, and staff have contributed significantly to the design of several instruments used on Hubble, both past and future, and have participated vigorously in making observations and discoveries with the telescope.