Mikulski, AAS React to House Subcommittee Action on JWST

Mikulski, AAS React to House Subcommittee Action on JWST

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) each issued statements today defending the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in the wake of action by a House appropriations subcommittee to kill the troubled program.

Senator Mikulski, who represents Maryland, home to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center that manages the JWST program, called the action by the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee a “shortsighted and misguided move” that would “kill 2,000 jobs nationwide and stall scientific progress and discovery.” She called on the Obama Administration to “step in and fight” for the telescope, which is the successor to the immensely popular Hubble Space Telescope. Operations of Hubble are conducted at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), also in Maryland. STScI is also slated to operate JWST. Senator Mikulski , who chairs the Senate Appropriations CJS subcommittee, is known as an enthusiast for space and earth science research generally.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the leading professional society for astronomers and astrophysicists, said terminating JWST “threatens American leadership in the fields of astrophysics and advanced space technology while likely eliminating hundreds, if not thousands, of high-tech jobs.”

The House subcommittee recommended terminating JWST because of cost overruns and poor management. The recommendation will be taken up by the full House Appropriations Committee on July 13. Whatever decision is made then still must be considered by the full House, and the Senate also must act on its own version of the CJS appropriations bill. Thus, the subcommittee action is just the first step in a long process.

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