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James Web Space Telescope  (Source: Discovery News)
Hubble's replacement could be killed after years and billions invested

It has been a very long time since the project to replace the Hubble Space Telescope with a new and higher tech device began. Like many other projects that NASA has been working on and projects at other government sponsored facilities, things are under the knife as Washington seeks to cut every ounce of fat from the budget for next year.

One of the projects that NASA is running is the replacement for the Hubble called the James Web Space Telescope. The JWST was unveiled back in May of 2007 and at the time, it was said that the program had met technical and cost schedules for the previous 20 months of development. Somewhere between 2007 and today the program went significantly off course and has come under the knives of politicians looking to trim more budgetary fat.

Discovery News reports that last week the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee recommend that the JWST program be cancelled. Yesterday the full House Science, Space, and Technology committee approved the subcommittee's plans to cancel the program.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made a plea to the committee to keep the JWST alive at the last minute. Bolden said, "I have tried to explain what I think is the importance of James Webb, in terms of opening new horizons far greater than we got from Hubble. I would only say that for about the same cost as Hubble in real-year dollars, we'll bring James Webb into operation."

An amendment to the budget that would have sent another $200 million to the project was voted down. So far the JWST has gobbled up $3 billion and all of that money will be lost if the project is cancelled. The program is estimated to cost $6.8 billion when complete so the cancellation would save over $3 billion.


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Good Idea...
By Goty on 7/14/2011 1:16:30 PM , Rating: 5
Sure, let's cut the JWST and thereby not only kill the largest single upcoming instrument for astronomical research but also completely destroy the United States' already lagging leadership in the field, not to mention potentially putting any number of researchers in a bind because they've pinned all of their work on the results the JWST can provide.




RE: Good Idea...
By tng on 7/14/2011 1:48:20 PM , Rating: 3
You say that like our congress really knows (or cares) what the image of the US in in the space and exploration field is. Even for the congress members on the science committee, if it has no benefit back in their specific home district they don't care about it.


RE: Good Idea...
By kleinma on 7/14/2011 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 3
They will care when China colonizes the moon and points lasers at the US because we were too stupid to keep things moving along in space while other nations are pumping in billions and billions and riding off the success of all previous nasa research (not to mention what was probably classified and stolen).

Nasa budget is way way too small, they could chip off a tiny piece of the defense budget and double nasas.


RE: Good Idea...
By quiksilvr on 7/14/2011 3:03:59 PM , Rating: 1
I think you got your tin-foil hat on too tight. The key is to mold it to the shape if you head BEFORE applying the clear plastic coating, not after.


RE: Good Idea...
By geddarkstorm on 7/14/2011 3:21:34 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely right. They wouldn't use lasers, which the atmosphere would attenuate, but rather kinetic weapons.


RE: Good Idea...
By tng on 7/14/2011 4:34:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
kinetic weapons
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?


RE: Good Idea...
By Fritzr on 7/14/2011 9:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
Please remove that ridge :P


RE: Good Idea...
By The Raven on 7/18/2011 3:08:27 PM , Rating: 2
lol you fearmonger about us needing a better defense against Chinese space lasers and then you suggest that we should cut the defense budget...

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to... shucks I can't do it ;-)

But seriously, if China started thinking of something like that, we could easily get an fleet up in the air. Especially if the cost is as cheap as you suggest.


RE: Good Idea...
By Masospaghetti on 7/14/2011 2:24:35 PM , Rating: 5
Yep...Congress is only willing to trim fat when it doesn't directly affect their constituents.

So wasteful entitlement programs that either don't belong in the first place or are riddled with fraud remain, because they generate legions of dependents that continue to vote, and actual useful programs like the James Webb telescope are axed. One of the fields that the government REALLY needs to intervene, because the private sector would never find it profitable to launch a space telescope.

The return on investment for a scientific instrument, such as this, is enormous, but the benefit is diluted too much for any one entity to find it profitable. Hence why the government needs to do it.

The US is well on its way to becoming a 2nd tier nation.


RE: Good Idea...
By Jedi2155 on 7/14/2011 10:49:46 PM , Rating: 3
I plan on contacting my Congressman/women and Senators regarding this issue. Space science brought me into engineering, and served as a great motivator for me. I am currently not involved in any way with the space program but I still love it so please. If you really care about the program, spend the time to contact your representatives.


"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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