We've kept focused over the last couple of weeks on bringing our 3 major procurements to completion. The Instrument AO is still on track for a mid-June award announcement. The Science and Operations contract effort is in the last stages of work too. The Phase 2 Prime Contractor downselect competition is headed for a "lightning round", and since I may in fact be dating myself with that reference, let me explain my meaning more clearly below.
NASA has asked the offerors for the NGST prime contract to submit revised information consistent with a planned launch date of June 2010. NASA anticipates a relatively short turnaround time for the evaluation of the revised input, and hence the term "lightning round" mentioned above. This new launch date is in agreement with the planned availability of NASA funds and with the rate of progress on the key technology developments in mirrors, instruments and other devices. It accommodates several possibilities for the international contributions from the European and Canadian Space Agencies, and it does not require reductions of capabilities. NASA is fully committed to meeting the scientific objectives developed by the NGST Science Working Groups and reviewed by committees advising all three space agencies.
On the technology front, our GSFC MEMS Development Group, on tap to deliver a programmable aperture selector (MEMS Microshutter Array) to the European Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSPEC) Team, had a technology first recently, as they operated a sub unit of the full microshutter array successfully at cryogenic temperatures. Many from the ISIM team were gathered last week over in Marseilles for a Phase A mid term review of the ESA NIRSPEC instrument.
Finally, Peter Stockman tells us that the electronic (pdf-file) release of STScI spring 2002 Newsletter is available for download http://sco.stsci.edu/newsletter/
It contains a couple of interesting articles on NGST in addition to HST. (It can also be reached by clicking "STScI Newsletter" in the left column of the Institute homepage.)