So yesterday was the last shuttle launch. To the crew of STS-135: the last safe travels!
You know what else happened in the past day or so? The House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee has recommended: “$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 (JWST). This is not the end of JWST, but it is no good news.
While it is undeniable that the project has had large cost overruns and is behind schedule, it is also very clear that the project, once complete, will be a tool of enormous worth to the (world-wise, not only the U.S.) scientific community — and, through them, to the general population.
In case you wondered (from www.stsci.edu):
JWST is recognized as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and will ensure US leadership in space astronomy for the next decade. The telescope is the cornerstone of future space astronomy and is the foundation upon which the 2010 Astronomy Decadal Survey, "New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics", was built.
JWST is the “Hubble” for the next generation of young scientists and engineers. Its research accomplishments and images will be equally profound and the discoveries will be just as unimaginable. JWST will explore the Universe beyond what Hubble could see. Much like it happened with the Hubble Space Telescope when it was designed and lunched, many things JWST will find are so revolutionary they’re simply beyond our ability to predict.
There are so so so many reasons for which it would be senseless to throw away the $3 billion already spent on JWST and to forego discoveries we can only imagine right now. To see just a few (in plain English):
Here's a list of members for the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee who recommended that the JWST be stripped of funding:http://1.usa.gov/q7VYYr.
And here's how to contact each member: http://1.usa.gov/4yLnaI.
Every email, call, and letter counts!
fyi: here is The American Astronomical Society (AAS) response to the possible cancellation of the JWST:http://aas.org/node/4483