JWST cancellation proposed

July 6, 2011

Breaking news via old chum Suthers on Twitter  stating that JWST is on the brink of cancellation. There is a story at Space News, and a reaction posted by Bill Smith, president of AURA. Suthers wrote a rather prescient post on Skymania back in April. (Before updating I thought this post was new ! Sorry Paul.)

Its all tangled up with Obama versus the Republicans and the US budget deficit cap etc. Obama made a budget request for NASA of almost eighteen and a half billion. But the relevant House Appropriations Committee, for commerce, justice and science, has proposed a draft budget almost 2 billion less, and specifically proposed cutting JWST. The proposed budget gets formally voted on by the committee tomorrow.

Jeez. Who understands the system ? Whats the odds now ?


– Lots of Twitter activity

– Sarah K has also blogged it.

– The House Committee press release is here. If you are too lazy to click through, here is an extract :

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – NASA is funded at $16.8 billion in the bill, which is $1.6 billion below last year’s level and $1.9 billion below the President’s request. This funding includes:

  • $3.65 billion for Space Exploration which is $152 million below last year. This includes funding above the request for NASA to meet Congressionally mandated program deadlines for the newly authorized crew vehicle and launch system.
  • $4.1 billion for Space Operations which is $1.4 billion below last year’s level. The legislation will continue the closeout of the Space Shuttle program for a savings of $1 billion.
  • $4.5 billion for NASA Science programs, which is $431 million below last year’s level. The bill also terminates funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management.

National Science Foundation (NSF) – The legislation funds NSF at $6.9 billion, the same as last year’s level and $907 million below the President’s request. Within this funding, NSF’s core research is increased by $43 million to enhance basic research that is critical to innovation and U.S. economic competitiveness.

Another update : post on Nature News blog summarises the situation well. There are several more stages to go, so don’t panic yet. But gird your loins.