The battle over the Hubble Telescope may very well be a political one.
This week, the Republican favored House of Representatives proposed cutting the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) as part of the 2012 NASA budget. The budget was determined by the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee and led by Republican Representative Frank Wolf from Virginia.
Wolf and other appropriators said the JWST program is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management.
Not long after this budget cut was proposed, Wolf's opponent on the Senate subcommittee of the same nature, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, released a statement which said cutting the Webb telescope is a terrible idea.
Today the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies passed a bill that would terminate the James Webb Space Telescope, kill 2,000 jobs nationwide and stall scientific progress and discovery. It was a shortsighted and misguided move, Mikulski said. The Webb Telescope will lead to the kind of innovation and discovery that have made America great. It will inspire America's next generation of scientists and innovators that will have the new ideas that lead to the new jobs in our new economy.
It seems as if the Senate (Democrats) and the House (Republicans) will spar over this issue and determine Webb's fate. The funding bill will be considered by the Full Appropriations Committee on July 13.
The Webb Telescope is the successor to the Hubble telescope, which NASA announced recently made its one millionth science observation. The telescope recently logged the observation during a search for water in an exoplanet's atmosphere 1,000 light-years away.
For 21 years Hubble has been the premier space science observatory, astounding us with deeply beautiful imagery and enabling ground-breaking science across a wide spectrum of astronomical disciplines, said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. The fact that Hubble met this milestone while studying a faraway planet is a remarkable reminder of its strength and legacy.
Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna