Shudders are still rolling through the space-exploration community after the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee voted on July 7 to slash NASA's budget by $1.9 billion. The full House Appropriations Committee will meet next week to consider the subcommittee's mark-up, and you can be sure amendments will be offered, especially regarding the proposal to cancel the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
Even as the world watched the last launch of the American Space Shuttle, the threat to JWST continued to attract media attention. Everyone recognizes this would be a huge blow to science, and not a blow that science could soon recover from.
You might want to check out the statements on the proposed cancellation of JWST from the American Astronomical Society and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy.
It's important we all remember that JWST is not the only NASA program that would be severely damaged by this proposed budget. Science, technology development, and commercial spaceflight will all be hit hard. Even recognizing the fiscal reality of the times, we must keep reminding people that NASA is an investment in humanity's future. We must fight to make sure it gets the resources it needs to build that future.
We will argue that NASA should focus on making the most of the money it gets. Cuts will be necessary, and priorities must be set, even if they are painful. But the mark-up going to the House Appropriations committee goes too far and cuts too deep.
Next Tuesday, the House Science and Technology Committee will hold a hearing to Review the mandated Space Launch System (SLS). NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden is the only witness called to testify, but the Planetary Society will be submitting a statement on the SLS for the record.
Meanwhile, make sure you're on our e-mail newsletter list. That is the most effective and far-reaching channel for us to get word out about the shifting NASA budget situation. The struggle is just beginning...