PCMag.com 7/14 – (Peter Pachal, Congress Comes Closer to Killing NASA's James Webb Telescope, July 14, 2011, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2388502,00.asp, K.C)
CORRECTION: This story originally misidentified the House committee responsible for defunding the James Webb telescope as the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. In fact, it was the House Committee on Appropriations that approved the bill.
The James Webb space telescope, the successor to Hubble, just came one step closer to being thrown in the trash bin over budget cuts. Yesterday the House Committee on Appropriations approved a plan to slash NASA's budget for next year and explicitly kill the project. The House and Senate still need to vote on the measure before it becomes law, but it's not looking good for expensive Webb. The cost of developing the telescope has ballooned over the years as NASA has had to invent whole new technologies in order to make it work properly. Unlike the Hubble, the Webb will be much further from Earth in order to shield itself from infrared radiation, and its systems will need to function at extremely cold temperatures. Adapting to those conditions has proved pricey for NASA. It's already spent $3 billion on the Webb, and the total cost is projected to be about $6.8 billion (it was initially budgeted at $1.6 billion total). However, once launched and put into place, the Webb will be so far from Earth that it will be impossible to service, so subsequent costs would involve only operating the telescope and analyzing its data (estimated at $1 billion over 10 years). On Tuesday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made an appeal to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee to save the Webb. "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," Discovery News reported Bolden as saying. "I would only say that for about the same cost as Hubble in real-year dollars, we'll bring James Webb into operation." His words apparently had little effect. Neither did an attempt to restore partial funding of the Webb with a eleventh-hour amendment from Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California. The Republican-dominated committee shot down the measure with a voice vote, Nature reported. As the Webb edges closer to oblivion, scientists have voiced concern over the termination of the project, saying that the discoveries it could reveal will be well worth the cost. "The proposal... to terminate the James Webb Space Telescope would waste more taxpayer dollars than it saves," said the American Astronomical Society in a statement. "Such a proposal threatens American leadership in the fields of astrophysics and advanced space technology while likely eliminating hundreds, if not thousands, of high-tech jobs." One of the engineers who worked on components for the Webb, Sarah Kendrew, wrote in a blog post for the Guardian, "For scientists, its loss will slow progress in understanding the physics that governs the universe at a time when huge advances are within our reach. Engineers, who have successfully completed many aspects of the observatory, will see more than a decade of work go to waste. The public will lose the opportunity to marvel once again at the amazing place that is our universe: the thousands of planets that populate our own galaxy, the places where new suns are born, the first galaxies at the dawn of time."
NASA’s budget prioritizes project funding – new spending causes tradeoffs with low priority projects
CNET 2/14 – (William Harwood – Network Author, “NASA 2012 budget reflects ‘tough choices,’ uncertain outlook,” February 14, 2011, http://news.cnet.com/8301-19514_3-20031912-239.html) mihe
Faced with reduced funding and an uncertain outlook, NASA's $18.7 billion fiscal 2012 budget prioritizes the Obama administration's major goals and objectives, focusing on maintaining the International Space Station, retiring the shuttle and ramping up efforts to spur development of commercial manned spacecraft. The budget also reflects the administration's commitment to building a new heavy-lift rocket and a crew capsule that could be used for deep-space exploration. In the meantime, with the shuttle's retirement looming after a final three missions, NASA will continue to rely on Russia to provide transportation to and from the space station aboard Soyuz spacecraft at about $55 million a seat. "This budget requires us to live within our means so we can invest in our future," NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden told reporters. "It maintains our strong commitment to human spaceflight and new technologies. It establishes critical priorities and invests in excellent science, aeronautics research and education programs that will help us win the future." Because "these are tough fiscal times, tough choices had to be made," he said. "Our No. 1 priority is safely flying out the shuttle and maintaining the safety and well being of the American astronauts currently living and working in space." Any budget takes place in a context," said Elizabeth Robinson, NASA's chief financial officer. "Perhaps the context this year is a little more complicated than others but as always, it's a combination of internal and external factors. Both an internal and external factor is we still don't know what's happening to our funding levels in 2011. The agency is proceeding in all of its programs, but commitments to life cycle costs and launch dates are likely to be impacted by whatever we get in 2011."
Webb Telescope key to space leadership – experts prove
NY Times 7/6 – (Dennis Overbye – deputy science editor at the New York Times and physics degree from M.I.T., “House Panel Proposes Killing Webb Telescope,” July 6, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/07/science/07webb.html) mihe
The announcement of the telescope’s potential demise came as part of a draft budget for NASA and other agencies, including the Commerce and Justice Departments. In all, the committee proposed lopping $1.6 billion off NASA’s current budget, which is $18.4 billion for 2011. The Obama administration had originally requested $18.7 billion for NASA. Astronomers reacted with immediate dismay, fearing that the death of the Webb telescope could have the same dire impact on American astronomy that killing the Superconducting Supercollider, a giant particle accelerator in Texas, did in 1993 for American physics, sending leadership abroad. Canceling the Webb telescope would “have a profound impact on astrophysics far into the future, threatening U.S. leadership in space science,” said Matt Mountain, director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which would run the new telescope. “This is particularly disappointing at a time when the nation is struggling to inspire students to take up science and engineering,” he added. Tod R. Lauer, an astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, echoed his view. “This would be an unmitigated disaster for cosmology,” he said. “After two decades of pushing the Hubble to its limits, which has revolutionized astronomy, the next step would be to pack up and give up. The Hubble is just good enough to see what we’re missing at the start of time.” The Webb telescope, he said, “would bring it home in full living color.” The Appropriation Committee’s proposal was the opening act in what is likely to be a long political drama, in which the Senate will eventually have a say. The measure is expected to be approved Thursday by the subcommittee in charge of NASA and the other agencies, according to Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the committee.
Space leadership key to hegemony
Dowd 09 – senior fellow with the Fraser Institute, Policy Review for Stanford University (Hoover Institution – Stanford University, Surrendering Outer Space, August 3, 2009, http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/5421) mihe
Surrendering the ability to carry astronauts into space promises to be a blow to America’s international stature. And in this age of global connectivity and global competition, what may seem like a marginal matter could become a serious problem. We already live at a time America is perceived as a nation in decline. Pierre Hassner of the Paris-based National Foundation for Political Science recently concluded, “It will not be the New American Century.” A 2005 piece in the Guardian dismissed America as “the hollow superpower.” It’s no wonder that Obama addressed the “nagging fear” of America’s decline in his inauguration speech, and Bush dismissed “the belief that America is in decline” in his 2006 State of the Union address. What’s relevant here is how America’s self-imposed absence from space could fuel the declinist fire, weaken America’s standing, and enhance the position of America’s enemies. Again, history is instructive: When Sputnik rocketed into orbit and Moscow triumphed, Senator Henry Jackson called it “a national week of shame and danger.” America’s attempt to match Moscow only highlighted the gap between the two superpowers when, weeks after Sputnik, America’s answer, Vanguard, exploded on takeoff. Leebaert writes that Moscow’s initial space superiority was “alarming because it was far more visible than anything else in science and technology.” Combined with America’s futility, the situation negatively impacted the country’s prestige and security, “the two in those days being habitually linked.
On balance, this is the best long-term guiding principle and vision. Such a vision is desirable not as an end in itself, but because a world in which the United States exercises leadership would have tremendous advantages. First, the global environment would be more open and more receptive toAmerican values -- democracy, free markets, and the rule of law. Second, such a world would have a better chance of dealing cooperatively with the world's major problems, such as nuclear proliferation, threats of regional hegemonyby renegade states, and low-level conflicts.Finally,U.S. leadership would help preclude the rise of another hostile global rival, enabling the United States and the world to avoid another global cold or hot war and all the attendant dangers, including a global nuclear exchange. U.S. leadership would therefore be more conducive to global stability than a bipolar or a multipolar balance of power system.