SPIE objects to possible termination of James Webb Space Telescope project

Aug. 10, 2011
Bellingham, WA--SPIE is objecting to a decision by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Space to terminate the JWST.

Bellingham, WA--In a letter it sent to the U.S. House of Representatives, SPIE said that ending the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST; www.jwst.nasa.gov) project would waste billions of taxpayer dollars that have already been invested, undermine American leadership and innovation in space technology, and eliminate much-needed jobs and economic growth. SPIE is objecting to a decision by the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Space to terminate the JWST.

The House Appropriations Committee press release at http://appropriations.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=250023 says that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (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 $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 the Committee says is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management.

SPIE leadership is urging that JWST, with more than 75% of its hardware already delivered, be fully funded and seen to its completion. SPIE fully supports improved and informed oversight of all federal spending on science and technology and recognizes the importance of beginning to reduce the deficit, but urges appropriators to make fiscally sound choices about reductions, the letter says.

SPIE adds that NASA's 2012 budget proposal asked Congress for $375 million for JWST for the coming yearhundreds of millions less than what the Independent Comprehensive Review Panel estimated the program would need to keep the launch from extending beyond 2015. The letter from SPIE also said that it takes decades for space telescope missions to be fulfilled, and due to their duration and complexity, it is imperative that NASA be provided with a stable, long-term budget to avoid inefficiencies and achieve its missions.

See the SPIE Newsroom article on "Lessons learned from testing the James Webb Space Telescope optical components" at spie.org/x51592.xml.

SOURCE: SPIE; http://spie.org/x51879.xml

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About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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