As you all may know, the vote to save or cancel the James Webb Space Telescope is coming up in the US HoR. I came across this
open letter to congress about the telescope. The OP there gave permission for others to use it as well, and, since it is indeed very well written, I went ahead and emailed my Representative. Since it only takes a moment of your time, I strongly suggest all of the US stationed Orbinauts here to send an email to their Representative also. Feel free to write your own, but at the very least copy and paste the letter in the link. It takes literally 2 minutes to do. Here is the text of the letter if you don't want to follow an external link.
Write To Your Representative
Find Your +4 Zip Code
On July 7th I read that a proposed budget from the HoR FY'12 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations committee would reduce NASA's budget by $1.6bn and cancel the James Webb Space Telescope program. I saw this quote:
"$4.5 billion for NASA Science programs, which is $431 million below last year’s level. The bill also terminates funding for the James Webb Space Telescope, which is billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management."
In the very same letter, American leadership in space exploration is cited as a motivator behind the budget decisions. This is a failure of judgment, not leadership. I am deeply ashamed that our Congress does not have the pride in NASA's half-century of discovery and innovation to fund its continued work. The JWST instrument will channel unimaginable discoveries about the universe through American universities. It will find habitable (and perhaps even inhabited) worlds, look through the sheath of dust that blinds us from the majority of our galaxy and photograph the furthest objects we will have ever seen in the universe.
On the heels of the Hubble Space Telescope's leaping successes, JWST should be the proud flagship of America's space exploration ambitions. Instead, it is about to become a casualty of political games, not of prudence or necessary sacrifice. We spend more in less than one month in Afghanistan and Iraq than it would take to fund NASA for a year. Two years of defense spending at the current level would cover NASA's entire historical budget. These are not the decisions of "necessary sacrifice" when we are continuing to bleed our wealth into two wars we have already won and then offering to cut off one of the most powerful space exploration instruments in history to make up for it.
Do not make this mistake. This is not leadership. This is not prudence. This is cowardice to risk votes by cutting from more controversial and vastly more over-budgeted programs (Defense, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security).
In 50 years, NASA has reshaped our entire view of the universe. The Voyager program imaged, in great detail, the most distant planets in our solar system for the very first time in human history. American engineering did THAT. Those spacecraft are still flying and transmitting homeward even at the very edge of diving into deep space. NASA did THAT.
Galileo and Cassini explored our giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. They landed a robot on a frozen moon 10 times further away from the Sun than the Earth and sent back photographs. Kepler has discovered 1,250 worlds orbiting other stars. We have had robotic vehicles exploring the terrain of Mars for 7 years. As we speak, Messenger is sending back brand new data on Mercury, New Horizons will unveil Pluto and Charon in just years and we are about to visit two of the next-closest dwarf planets, Vesta and Ceres, in NASA's continued investigation of the planets in our solar system. All of these places were far beyond reach 50 years ago without NASA's capability. Indeed, humans stared at the skies with fear, ignorance and wonder for millennia. NASA conquered that frontier for humanity and did it under the flag of the United States of America.
All of these missions were made possible by the hard work and expertise of American engineers and international cooperation at NASA. Their reward will be to see their work waste away under a tarp in a warehouse.
NASA aligns America with international science in ways no other agency can. They deserve our universal support and patronage. It is vital to real leadership in every measurable way. Continue to fund our proud engineering accomplishments, continue the JWST project, even with its over-expenditures and the need for better oversight. All of this is worth the cost, all of it can be managed through to success and then America will truly lead the world in space exploration.
(I didn't know mine