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Funding Soars for Weaponry in U.S. Budget

Missile defenses top U.S. budget request, but it isn't quite the bonanza that it appears

4 min read

The federal budget request that U.S. President George W. Bush has submitted to Congress contains some impressive new highs for science and technology--but the government's projected US $521 billion deficit for 2004-2005 has translated into some difficult tradeoffs and unpleasant surprises.

White House science adviser John H. Marburger III proudly brags that 5.7 percent of total discretionary fiscal 2005 outlays--the part of the budget that is controllable year to year--would go to nondefense R and D, the third highest level of funding for research in 25 years. His Office of Science and Technology Policy's Web site has all sorts of impressive bar charts, including one that shows civilian R and D growing healthily during Bush's tenure to levels never seen during the Clinton years.

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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