The James Webb Satellite seems to be a highly successful project and it looks like humanity will get useful observations from it for many decades to come. But the question is... why not make 3 more copies of JWST and launch them into orbit so that we could get new data 4x faster? Or even 9 copies to get data 10x faster?

Since all the engineering has already been done and the satellite has been tested in practice, surely this would be much cheaper and faster than designing a new satellite from scratch? And you'll get a bit of savings from economies of scale, as you'll make several copies of the same part.

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    $\begingroup$ 'Economies of scale' really don't kick in for complex things at the 1-10 level. Sure, the next one won't take 20 years, but each one will basically be a one-off repeated. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ This is a completely different question to the claimed duplicate, which is asking about interferometric combination of multiple telescopes. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 19:32
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    $\begingroup$ @JonCuster they kind of do? At the very least you no longer have to pay the engineering teams and just copy&paste the original designs $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ Finite resources (money, time, people) and infinite questions dictates that money be spread across as many different technologies as possible. In other words, what money there is will be always better invested in telescopes that differ substantially from all previous telescopes. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 20, 2022 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ Economies of scale are about mass production, not small run ultra precise things like this. Not even close. It could easily be much more expensive to try and make more in any reasonable time frame for a variety of reasons. The benefit of EoS comes from the fact that even an extremely small savings per widget will offset the incredible amount of upfront cost required to build out the mass production facilities and get everything up and running. But it only works because the small savings is multiplied by gigantic volumes, not 10. $\endgroup$
    – eps
    Commented Jul 21, 2022 at 2:20


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