Space News suggests Congress use the billions for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket to fund JWST


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In an editorial yesterday Space News suggested that Congress use the billions it is allocating for NASA’s heavy-lift rocket to fund the James Webb Space Telescope instead.

This is not surprising. Webb already has a strong constiuency (astronomers, the public) while the Space Launch System has little support outside of Congress and the specific aerospace contractors who want the work. With tight budgets as far as the eye can see into the future, and the likelihood that Congress is going to become more fiscal conservative after the next election, it would not shock me in the slightest if SLS gets eliminated and the money is given to Webb. And if the SpaceX and Orbital Sciences cargo missions to ISS go well then cutting SLS would almost be a certainty, as this success would demonstrate that these private companies should be able to replace SLS for a tenth of the cost.

And I also think this would be a much wiser use of the taxpayers money.

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2 comments

  • Kelly Starks

    It would certainly be better if the money was spent on a better vehicle development program then the SLS, but personally I’d rather lose the Webb, then the launch vehicle, or maned space craft industrial capacity of the US.

  • Joe2

    “This is not surprising.”

    Do not know enough about Space News editorial stances to no whether or not it is surprising.

    “Webb already has a strong constiuency (astronomers, the public) while the Space Launch System has little support outside of Congress and the specific aerospace contractors who want the work.”

    Webb certainly has supporters among some (though not necessarily all) astronomers, but I see no evidence of support (much less strong support) among the general public.

    “With tight budgets as far as the eye can see into the future, and the likelihood that Congress is going to become more fiscal conservative after the next election, it would not shock me in the slightest if SLS gets eliminated and the money is given to Webb.”

    Serious question: Would not shock you or would please you?

    “And if the SpaceX and Orbital Sciences cargo missions to ISS go well then cutting SLS would almost be a certainty, as this success would demonstrate that these private companies should be able to replace SLS for a tenth of the cost.”

    Really? The Space X and Orbital Sciences COTS systems can place a minimum to 70 tonnes into LEO? News to me.

    “And I also think this would be a much wiser use of the taxpayers money.”

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion. While I am not at all hostile to the goals of the Webb Telescope, I consider it to be overly ambitious per our current cislunar space capabilities. Someday when (and if) those capabilities increase – which I believe will require a 70 tonne launcher and an orbital assembly and maintenance capability – then maybe that will change.

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