The James Webb Space Telescope would get US$530 million in 2012, and would be fully supported towards a 2018 launch, after a Senate subcommittee marked up a science appropriations bill today.
After a similar subcommittee in the House had voted to cancel the mission, many wondered what Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski would do, as the mission is managed in her state. At the subcommittee meeting today, the Senator said the beleaguered mission would get $530 million in 2012 — much more than the $374 million that had been asked for in the president’s budget request. But the agency as a whole would get $17.9 billion — half a billion less than it received in 2011.
So American Astronomical Society Executive Officer Kevin Marvel, who is obligated to support astronomers in heliophysics and planetary science, isn’t yet sure if this is a good thing. “It’s obviously a hopeful sign,” he says. “But we need to understand what the extra addition means. We’re concerned about offsets to other divisions.”