Much More Than a Telescope

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Science  26 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6046, pp. 1071
DOI: 10.1126/science.1212119

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Imagine that the Hubble Space Telescope never existed—that it fell victim to budget overruns, schedule slips, and the tragedy of the Challenger disaster, and was ultimately canceled. Breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe would not have occurred, countless young people around the world would not have been inspired, and U.S. leadership in science and space would be far less. The United States is at a similar crossroads today. Last month, an appropriations committee in the House of Representatives voted to terminate Hubble's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, as part of the 2012 budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Senate has yet to be heard from, but the numbers in the Budget Control Act of 2011 that passed earlier this month suggest that the Senate could make the funds available to restore funding for the Webb, to the benefit of astronomy and the nation.