NASA Scraps Telescope to Study Black Holes
'GEMS' project was coming in way over budget
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 7, 2012 6:02 PM CDT
This undated image provided by the Gemini Observatory shows an artist's conception of stars moving in the central regions of a giant elliptical galaxy that harbors a supermassive black hole.   (AP Photo/Gemini Observatory, AURA artwork by Lynette Cook)

(Newser) – NASA killed a new X-ray telescope mission today, two years before its planned launch. The Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer mission, or GEMS for short, was supposed to blast off in 2014 to study black holes and neutron stars. But external reviews found the project would likely come in considerably over budget. Adjusted for inflation, GEMS was supposed to hold at $119 million, but independent reviews estimated the final cost at 20% to 30% above that.

It will cost NASA an estimated $13 million to close out the project. After adding in the money already spent on GEMS, the final tab for the space agency will be $50 million. GEMS was selected under a strict cost cap, NASA officials said, unlike the price-busting James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2018. The Webb is considered the successor to the Hubble.

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