Senate Approves Bill Funding JWST

by Jason Major on November 1, 2011

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This afternoon the U.S. Senate approved H.R. 2112, a FY 2012 bill from Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski that would fund the James Webb Space Telescope to launch in 2018. This is another step forward for the next-generation space telescope, which many have called the successor to Hubble… all that now remains is for the House to reconcile.

“We are creating the building blocks that we need for a smarter America. Our nation is in an amazing race – the race for discovery and new knowledge, the race to remain competitive,” Chairwoman Mikulski said. “This bill includes full funding of the James Webb Telescope to achieve a 2018 launch. The Webb Telescope supports 1,200 jobs and will lead to the kind of innovation and discovery that have made America great. It will inspire America’s next generation of scientists and innovators that will have the new ideas that lead to new products and new jobs.”

Full scale model of the JWST at the EADS Astrium in Munich. Credit: EADS Astrium

The bill was approved by a vote of 69 to 30.

Thanks to everyone who contacted their representatives in support of the JWST and to all the websites out there that helped make it simple to do so… and of course to all the state representatives who listened and stood behind the JWST!

In addition to continued funding for the telescope the 2012 bill also allots the National Aeronautics and Space Administration $17.9 billion (still a reduction of $509 million or 2.8 percent from the 2011 enacted level) and preserves NASA’s portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments, including the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, the heavy lift Space Launch System, and commercial crew development.

It also supports funding for the NOAA.

“We are creating the building blocks that we need for a smarter America. Our nation is in an amazing race – the race for discovery and new knowledge, the race to remain competitive.”

– U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski

Of course, we must remember that spending and allocation of funds is not necessarily creating funds. As with everything, money has to come from somewhere and it remains to be seen how this will affect other programs within NASA. Not everyone is in agreement that this is the best course of action for the Administration at this point, not with the overall reduction of budget being what it is.

Read the bill summary here.

You can show your continued support for the JWST by liking the Save the James Webb Space Telescope Facebook page and – even more importantly – by contacting your congressperson and letting them know you care!

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

petr November 1, 2011 at 8:35 PM

I twittered as many senate members as I could. Although I am not American, I did offer European financial assistance if they needed it! They haven’t taken it up as yet…

Torbjörn Larsson November 2, 2011 at 7:51 PM

LOL. And seriously, a good idea.

A serious LOL?

Sam November 1, 2011 at 10:13 PM

Lot of Thanks to Senate Approves Bill Funding JWST very useful for deep Space research
Sam.G
Space Research Center Of Madras
India

Anonymous November 2, 2011 at 2:27 AM

“…all that now remains is for the House to reconcile.” With the republicans in power in the house of representatives, with an overall ‘anti-scientific’ point of view.. only ‘pork’ will prevail = dzzzzzzzzasterville, Yo?

Steve Nerlich November 2, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Great news – this and the SKA should open up the universe like never before.

Anonymous November 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM

The House is full of prickly types, and many have odd ideas of science or anti-science. Most of this is directed against evolution and climate science. The big bang has started to come under the cross hairs of the far right, largely because it has certain anti-biblical implications. However, this space telescope is a showcase for American space technology. The Chinese space station program might also be a bit of a hot poker up their butts to fund this.

The JWST will be a valuable tool for understanding how anisotropies in the early universe formed the seeds for the formation of larger structures in the later universe.

LC

Torbjörn Larsson November 2, 2011 at 8:25 PM

Outrageous! At least for climate science you need timelines of decades to observe the process. Influenzas evolve anew _every year_, HIV evolve to first avoid the immune system and later evolve resistance to antiretrovirals over years, cancers evolve to first avoid the immune system and later evolve resistance to chemotherapy over years, bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics, and so on and so forth.

How can you deny what visibly happens to you, your family, your friends, your society on a continual basis? Biology is the result of evolution, so “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” including our most pernicious diseases.

Anonymous November 3, 2011 at 4:28 PM

This is a regrettable trend in the United States. There is a backbone of religious fundamentalism in the US that is far stronger than in Europe. The ideological thrust that has gained momentum in the last several decades is a complex of far right winged politics with religious literalism. We also have a media system that is not too different from what G. Orwell wrote about in his “1984.” In that fictional expose on the social-psychology of totalitarianism people would gather around the screens to watch their “10 minute hate.” Today we have that 24/7 on cable networks, where people will watch the demagogues on Faux News and go into an absolute rage — I have seen this in action. This is wrapped up with a range of anti-science ideologies as well.

A major thrust of this is the promotion of ignorance, where it is no surprise that with this are continued cutbacks in education at all levels. It is an appalling situation, which I wonder if it can really end by normal politics. It might be that the occupy Wall Street actions and the like are what it will take to break this.

LC

Torbjörn Larsson November 2, 2011 at 8:15 PM

It is sad for science that work creation is a prominent mentioned outcome. And also in itself, you could make an even more expensive project and have even more people in it. It warrants double :-/ :-/ ‘s.

If people manage to protect everything else, it is good. But having taken off sheaves for so many years and continuing, the small missions are hurt the most. And they are scientifically good ROI projects too.

At least the process moves forward again.

[Makes me wonder if someone has done research on science funding structure and what is the "best" outcome for some measures of value.]

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