U.S. Senate throws a lifeline to James Webb Space Telescope

A U.S. Senate committee has proposed to allow the embattled James Webb Space Telescope to launch. There are more political hurdles, but it’s a step forward.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations proposed on September 14, 2011, to allow NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) enough funding to realize the project, with a telescope launch still possible for 2018. In summer 2011, the House of Representatives had voted to cancel the project, which was over budget and behind schedule.

This move by the Senate, which comes with a stringent warning to NASA to be more accountable in executing the project, has revived hopes that the $6.5-billion space telescope will eventually be completed and launched.

According to ScienceInsider:

The markup will now go to the full appropriations committee for approval before going to the Senate floor for a vote. The approved bill will then have to be reconciled with the House version, which, NASA hopes, will result in a final appropriation that keeps the telescope alive.

Image Credit: Abbott Medical Optics Inc.

The James Webb Space Telescope – a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror – will serve as a window on the universe, much as the Hubble Space Telescope has for the past decade. JWST’s mirror segments are currently being prepped for testing at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

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