In today’s New York Times, Dennis Overbye reports in NASA’s Quest for Dark Energy May Fade to Black of the problems facing NASA’s $5 billion Webb Telescope, which include a $1.6 billion budget over-run and a delay in its launch until after its originally planned 2014 launch. But even worse is that Webb’s budget overruns could eat into the $2.2 billion funding allotted over the next decade for astrophysics. Most likely to be adversely affected is WFIRST, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Telescope, which is designed to look for Dark Matter. A delay of WFIRST beyond 2022 would leave the search for Dark Matter solely in the hands of the ESA’s Euclid.
AmericaSpace Note: At a time when the FY 2012 budget deficit will easily exceed $1.3 trillion, when parts of our nation’s federal budget, such as farm, energy and commercial subsidies, exceed NASA’s paltry budget of $19 billion by orders of magnitude, it is sad that few of our nation’s leaders think it worthwhile to cover the needed funds to move aeronautics research, the Webb Telescope, WFIRST and our human exploration program forward at a quicker pace. Instead, we get to witness our nation’s loss of one of the chief attributes that set it apart from other nations–leadership in exploration.