News Flash: James Webb Space Telescope SAVED!

Image credit: NASA and the James Webb Space Telescope Team.

The news has just come in: the United States Senate has decided to fully fund the James Webb Space Telescope, and it should be set to launch in 2018, which is the earliest it can possibly go ahead at this point.

Universe Today has the full story, and reports:

The 2012 fiscal year appropriation bill, marked up today by the Senate, allows for continued funding of the James Webb Space Telescope and support up to a launch in 2018!

In addition to continued funding for the telescope the 2012 bill also allots the National Aeronautics and Space Administration $17.9 billion (a reduction of $509 million or 2.8 percent from the 2011 enacted level) and preserves NASA’s portfolio balanced among science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments, including the Orion Multipurpose Crew Vehicle, the heavy lift Space Launch System, and commercial crew development.

Thanks to everyone who wrote or called their Senator or Congressperson, or otherwise lent their support. It’s a huge victory for astrophysics in this country to see that the United States is committed to going big, not going home. You can read the full bill summary here.

Remember how much we need this telescope, and how far we’ve already come in building it. Well done, everyone.


  1. #1 DaveH
    September 14, 2011

    Yay for the JWST!

  2. #2 Brian
    September 14, 2011

    What unexpected good news. Good thing I’m not the type to place bets, because I would have certainly bet against this outcome!

  3. #3 Clayton J.
    September 14, 2011

    It sounds like it’s time to get started with a letter-writing campaign specifically targeting House Republicans in order to bolster the chance that this funding will survive the inevitable conference committee. Several influential GOP Congressmen have made the JWST a prime target as some sort of example of government budgetary bungling, and I don’t see this funding surviving in full post-conference without either a lot of arm-twisting and deal-making or a big, big show of public support.

  4. #4 Waydude
    September 14, 2011

    Yes! Drinks on me! If you are in at George tonight.

  5. #5 John
    September 15, 2011

    Not a repeat of the SSC this time. Great news!

  6. #6 Tihomir
    September 15, 2011

    Best news since long time!
    It wouldn’t surprise me if you, Ethan, contributed to the saving as well, by explaining so clearly and with good arguments, what really happened with the money and what the cost projections were really all about. Thanks!

  7. #7 Angela Squires
    September 15, 2011

    Woohoot! Yes, Clayton J. we do have to make sure the anti-intellectual GOP idiots do not can the JWST. While I’m a cheeky Brit living in BC, I have written letters and made phone calls that affected events in the US so just tell me ‘go girl’!

  8. #8 Cop Car
    September 15, 2011

    Ethan–While that is, indeed, good news; I’ll celebrate when the appropriation is fully approved and received. Many’s the slip….

  9. #9 TheSkepticalStoner
    September 15, 2011

    I am rather impressed that the senate has said “yes”, let’s make sure reconciliation keeps it there.

    It’s depressing that there are some who think that it would be wise to stop work now, after all this money, effort and time, but I can understand where they’re coming from. I just hope that we can argue the case for continuing JWST effectively enough.

  10. #10 David H. Grinspoon
    September 15, 2011

    I am a fan of JWST but this doesn’t make me feel like celebrating as it is apparently being done at the expense of $150 million of other NASA space science projects. They are pitting us against each other, which is unfortunate, but if this goes through as planned there will be some serious bloodletting in NASA Earth and Planetary Science. What congress really needs to do is allocate NASA more funding for JWST to cover some of the overruns, not make NASA sacrifice other worthy science to make it happen.

  11. #11 OKThen
    September 15, 2011

    Good news yes; but not yet done.

    I just wrote one email and look what happened.

    Yes, I wrote my Senator an email. I should have written several Senators and Congressmen.

    But you know 100 individual sincere emails beat out a 1000 boilerplates every time.

    Yes I am guilty (on this blog) of characterizing business-as-usual-politics as “lacking courage and vision.” That’s an act of frustration not courage or vision.

    Such bashing of the system, a party, or individuals isn’t helpful.

    Science and society are better served when Senators and Congressmen behave as responsible individuals of courage and vision. As part and party of any dialogue; especially when stereotyping is running rampant, it is up to each of us to helpfully elevate the conversation.

    Democracy is frustrating; but the idea is that the collective intelligence of 10 men and women is better than the judgement of any one person. Thus the idea of a jury.

    But it doesn’t always work. Intimidation and bullying a jury or legislature leads to groupthink, not collective intelligence.

    So, we have to help our Congressmen and Senators have the vision and courage to know that they represent all of us and that we expect them to legislate with their best open mind, not dogmatically.

    Yes, I’ll have to write my congressman now. We got to elevate and keep the buzz going.

    Thank you Ethan for starting the buzz.

  12. #12 Kmuzu
    September 15, 2011

    That is good news .. I thought for sure they were going to scrap it and just start another war.

  13. #13 Kumar
    September 15, 2011

    Great News! The Big question is what are they going to do about the project mismanagement thus far? Will there be a change in the management of this project?

  14. #14 randomfactor
    September 15, 2011

    Was this a “deal” struck in exchange for also approving the Senate Launch System?

  15. #15 Henry
    September 15, 2011

    Bizarre headline.

    The Senate didn’t “save” JWST. They put it in their bill. It’s still not in the House bill. The Senate bill is just a bill. It’s not public law. There was never any doubt that the Mikulski machine would get it into the Senate bill. The two bills have to fight it out in conference. What comes out of that conference (if the President signs it) will be public law.

    Also, the level of JWST funding that is in this Senate bill is pretty small compared to the average required between now and FY18 to get up to the projected development cost of $8B. That would seem to mean that the following years are going to be a lot worse for whoever is going to be gouged to pay for it.

    Speaking of which, it’ll be interesting to see the Senate bill tomorrow to see just who they want gouged.

  16. #16 Mark McAndrew
    September 16, 2011

    Awesome news. JWST and the LHC are humanity’s most important scientific instruments.

    One is the ultimate telescope, the other is the ultimate microscope.

    “Showing us more of the Universe than we have ever seen before…? Priceless.”

  17. #17 Matt
    September 16, 2011

    I’m going to be really pissed if I’m dead before this thing comes online.

  18. #18 Wow
    September 16, 2011

    Don’t worry, Matt, you’ll be dead by then if that happens. They don’t really have many emotions, the dead…


  19. #19 forrest noble
    September 17, 2011

    Optimists like me never worried, believing the James Webb would go up sooner or later, hopefully before I die. But 2018 isn’t here yet so I will gladly settle for that date. Who knows what “catastrascopes” 🙁 might happen between now and then.

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