But No Money For Hubble Rescue
The good news: If President Bush's
budget is approved by Congress, NASA gets a whopping $16.5 billion
dollars, an increase of more than two percent over the current
The bad news: Researchers aren't terribly thrilled at the money
being spent on science projects and there's no money in that budget
to save the failing Hubble Space Telescope.
"Taken together, the inadequate FY06 investments in research
proposed by the administration would erode the research and
innovative capacity of our nation," said Nils Hasselmo, president
of the Association of American Universities, a group of 62 public
and private research universities. He was quoted in the Washington
But the president's science advisor disagrees with assertions
that Mr. Bush doesn't give a hoot about the projects people like
Hasselmo think are most important. The president "really believes
that science is important," John H. Marburger III, the president's
science adviser and director of the Office of Science and
Technology Policy, told the Post. Even though the president's
spending proposal is "austere," he told the paper, "we are not
going backward. We are not going down."
Well, not unless we're aboard the
Although it was no surprise for researchers, the budget proposal
contains no money for a mission -- manned or robotic -- to save the
Hubble Space Telescope, viewed by most astronomers as simply the
neatest gadget since the Swiss Army knife.
Maryland Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski indicated Hubble
(literally) won't go down without a fight.
"Hubble's best days are ahead of it, not behind it," she said in
a statement posted on her web site. "That's why I am so
disappointed that President Bush has failed to include funding in
this year's budget for a servicing mission that would extend the
life of the Hubble. I led the charge last year to add $300 million
to NASA's budget for a Hubble servicing mission, and I plan to do
it again. I will fight in the United States Senate this year to
fund a servicing mission to Hubble by 2008, a mission that would
potentially increase Hubble's power and efficiency by a factor of
10 and allow us to look back almost to the beginning of the
Oh, the Hubble does get a piece of the pie -- $93 million for a
2006 mission to adapt the telescope for a safe splashdown in the
ocean. But there are no plans to repair or enhance the space
"The Bush administration has wanted to kill Hubble for two
years," Mikulski told the Post in a telephone interview. "Everyone
in the scientific world says this is the greatest invention in
astronomy since Galileo's telescope."
There are some aerospace winners in the president's budget, if
it makes it through Congress. For instance, it gives NASA $753
million to develop the Crew Exploration Vehicle. That's the ship
the space agency hopes will serve the Moon and Mars directive
announced by Mr. Bush last year.