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Bid to infuse Webb telescope with cash fails

jwst.jpg The full House appropriations committee today debated its 2012 spending bill, which would strip funding for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) after a science subcommittee last week inserted the proviso. Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, tried to insert an amendment today that would have partially restored funding for JWST. He asked that $200 million be transferred to JWST from NASA’s account for Cross Agency Support. The amendment failed by a voice vote, which means that ayes and nays by the committee members are not tallied. Schiff’s district includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a NASA hotspot that is partially involved in the project.

The action today suggests that the JWST will remain stripped of funding when the bill goes before a full House vote. But many expect changes when the bill is eventually reconciled with the Senate, which includes staunch JWST supporters such as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland. Her district includes Goddard Space Flight Center, which is managing the project.

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    Raphael Perrino said:

    Today’s vote was, no doubt, a massive disappointment to supporters of the James Webb Space Telescope. One of the grandest technological and scientific undertakings in human history is at risk. A multitude of discoveries, unimagined, may be deferred for generations. Thousands of jobs are on the line, from research universities to the aerospace industry. And a profound source of inspiration for the next generation of scientists and engineers may be extinguished.

    I can say with confidence, however, that the online grassroots science community is energized: Save the James Webb Space Telescope | Facebook. Over 3,000 people have said “No” on Facebook, Twitter (#SaveJWST #JWST), and reddit to slashing JWST funds, many of whom have also written or called their Congressional Representatives and signed the petition.

    Now that the bill is heading to the floor for a full House vote, the most powerful thing we can do is to continue to contact our House members and Senators. Let’s flood those Congressional inboxes in support of the Next Generations’ Hubble.

    We cannot afford to repeat the technological and scientific blunder of the 1993 super collider. If the United States is to lead in space science, it must not cower in the face of short-term economic woes.

    This time, we WRITE and FIGHT for SCIENCE!

    Raphael Perrino

    Organizer, SaveJWST

    contact@rperrino.com

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