Funding for two iconic NASA space telescopes could be cut

NASA is considering cutting the budget for the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope as the space agency struggles with its spending for the coming year.

During a presentation to the National Academies’ Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics on Friday, Mark Clampin, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division, revealed that he is considering funding cuts for two of the space agency’s oldest missions, according to SpaceNews reported.

NASA was expect budget cuts since the deficit reduction law came into force in June, limiting government spending for 2024 at the same level as for 2023. The space agency had done this requested $27.2 billion for its 2024 budgetan increase of 7% from 2023. However, with the Fiscal Responsibility Act, NASA is unlikely to meet all requirements.

“We expect FY24 budgets to remain at FY23 levels,” Clampin is quoted as saying in SpaceNews. “This means that we have decided to reduce the budget for extended operations missions, and that applies to Chandra and Hubble.”

In July, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee became responsible for overseeing NASA’s budget revealed His own proposed NASA budget for 2024 calls for $25.367 billion for the space agency. That’s a significant drop from what NASA was hoping for, and as a result the space agency is looking at two of the most expensive missions currently underway.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990 and cost NASA approximately 16 billion dollars since its inception. The Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched on July 23, 1999 and has become very popular 913 million dollars since then.

The reason NASA is reviewing the budget of these two space telescopes is because they have been in operation for a long time. “Chandra is having a number of problems at the moment. It’s getting harder and harder to operate,” Clampin said, according to SpaceNews. “Although Hubble doesn’t have these problems, it has been in operation for a long time and accounts for a large portion of the astrophysics budget.”

Clampin did not make clear how much of the telescopes’ budget would be cut, but said that whatever NASA saved from Hubble and Chandra would go toward other astrophysics missions such as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2026.

NASA had difficulty managing its budget Return of humanity to the moon as part of the Artemis program, as well as the ambitious ones Mars sample return mission.

Before the spending cap legislation took effect, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said described the foreseeable effects of the bill as a “catastrophe”.The space agency has already had to make some cuts for the original 2024 budget request, namely suspending work on the Geospace Dynamics Constellation, a group of satellites designed to explore Earth’s upper atmosphere. Other missions also suffered from budget problems, such as: NASA’s VERITAS mission to Venuswhich was delayed indefinitely.

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