Mikulski Tries To Fund Zeroed Budget For Webb Telescope
October 3, 2011 • 1:45PM

The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, headed by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), cancelled all funding in FY2012 for the Webb Space Telescope in July. But a Senate subcommittee headed by Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, where the bulk of the work on the Webb Telescope takes place, is trying to provide $530 million for the Webb, which is named after John F. Kennedy's NASA administrator, James Webb, who took Americans to the Moon. The Senate vote on Sept. 14 actually provides $150 million more than the Obama administration requested, reported the Baltimore Sun, Oct. 2.

The Webb Space Telescope is NASA's next great space observatory, which will peer at the universe in the infrared, as a follow-on to the Hubble Space Telescope, which functioned in the optical range. Already suffering from long delays, the launch of the telescope has again been pushed back to 2018, from the ealier date of 2015. NASA had warned back in the Fall of 2010 that it needed an extra $500 million to meet that timetable, but the increase was not in the 2011 budget.

Webb has been over budget and behind schedule, largely due to the challenges of designing, building, and testing of the largest scientific instrument to be flown in space. About $3 billion has already been spent, and it is 75% complete. The proposed funding cancellation has not only drawn fire from Maryland politicians because of the loss of up to 1,200 jobs, but from the scientists, reported the Sun.

In April 2011, EIR wrote, "For more than a year, the Obama White House has waged warfare against the nation's leading science and exploration capabilities in our space program. Although that fight has centered around the effort to end the nation's human space exploration program, now every field of NASA's research is slated for destruction. If the President is not removed from office, the nation's scientific capabilities, essential for our future, will be lost." Since then, the situation has gotten even worse.