Thursday, July 7, 2011

JWST, hubble's successor, cut from US budget?!

Breaking news about hubble's successor telescope: the james webb space telescope (JWST).

today the US House Appropriations Committee released the fiscal year 2012 science appropriations bill, which will be voted on in subcommittee tomorrow. the main result affecting NASA and astronomy's future??

"The bill also terminates funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management."

the over budget and poor management statements are true, but the solution is reorganization, not a total budget cut.  if you are so inclined to influence the issue, contact the people involved in tomorrow's vote!  also, i dont know what this means regarding the canadian space agency and ESA who are also partners in the project. anyone know what the payoff would be?

here are other statements from the press release:

"National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $16.8 billion in the bill, which is $1.6 billion below last year’s level and $1.9 billion below the President’s request. This funding includes:
  • $3.65 billion for Space Exploration which is $152 million below last year. This includes funding above the request for NASA to meet Congressionally mandated program deadlines for the newly authorized crew vehicle and launch system.
  • $4.1 billion for Space Operations which is $1.4 billion below last year’s level. The legislation will continue the closeout of the Space Shuttle program for a savings of $1 billion.
  • $4.5 billion for NASA Science programs, which is $431 million below last year’s level. The bill also terminates funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management."

5 awesome things about JWST:

more resources:

american astronomical society (AAS) press release

why we need the JWST by julianne at cosmic variance

from risa at cosmic variance

phil plait from bad astronomy

US house committee press release

Nature News blog

Science Insider

ian o'neill at discovery news

the e-Astronomer

sarah kendrew

universe today


Mike said...

I have mixed feeling about this. I fear that if JWST is saved -- and it's likely given the composition of the appropriations committees -- NASA will cut existing missions to make up the budget and put all our scientific eggs in one basket.

Unknown said...

the thing that confuses me the most about the astronomical community is why we are competing to fund and build THREE extremely large (opt/IR) telescopes: TMT, GMT, and E-ELT. especially with JWST under such a threat...

Brian Schmidt said...

The ELT and JWST funding come from very different baskets. However, I suspect that the ELT prospects will be hurt severely if JWST is cut - and it does beg the question of Astronomers consolidating to one or two projects that might actually get up - My sense is that this will not happen until everything fails, and we have no choice. More likely will be that Europe will march slowly on, leaving the rest of the world for dust.

Mike said...

I think we're going to end up having to get a lot more funding from he private sector. In the fight between taxpayers, seniors and wars, we're getting squeezed.

heroineworshipper said...

US is bankrupt. NASA is going to get a lot less, like everyone else. Even defense contracts are being cut, left & right.

Rik Gern said...

Thanks for the heads up. I contacted my Senator, who is on that committee. For anyone who wants to call
their Senator, you can reach them (as well as members
of the House) at (202) 224-3121. While you're at it,
you might want to ask them to make sure the wealthiest contribute to the balancing of the budget! There are sneaky moves afoot right now to eviscerate the government at the expense of the middle class, the working class and the poor!

David said...

Looking at this more generally, I have noticed that compared to NASA projects, European space projects tend to be completed more often on time and on budget. Anyone know why ?

Nick Seymour said...

I believe one of the reasons European space projects are better managed is that there is more oversight and consistent planning in a multi-national organisation where countries have to make long term (legally-binding) commitments. NASA's budget is at the whim of the congress and the President. What happened to Bush's Presidential Order for NASA to go back to the Moon and then to Mars? It's often a painful, expensive process getting European countries to agree, but when they do they can plow on ahead knowing the oversight and budget is there.