When Space Shuttle Columbia deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory from its cargo bay in 1999, the observatory’s mission officially began. Its original aim was planned to last five years, but it has managed to last twenty-four years and counting, offering essential science in conjunction with the Hubble Space Telescope, the other Great Observatory. Regretfully, it appears that all space telescopes, and Chandra in particular, are in jeopardy due to NASA’s FY2025 budget. This is a component of the wider US budget for FY2025, which increases NASA’s overall spending by 2% but not by enough to stop the agency from cutting back on space telescope activities.

NASA had previously budgeted for this reduction in 2023, with cash going to the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope (which will launch in the infrared in 2027). Hubble’s budget will drop from 68.3 million USD in FY2023 to 41.4 million USD in FY2025, and from there it will reduce to 5.2 million USD by FY2029, eventually winding down the project and ending NASA’s flagship X-ray astronomy mission. However, since Hubble is a cooperative operation with ESA, any deficits may be discovered this way. Not everyone is happy about this, and a website called Save Chandra has been created to ask the US government to rescue the observatory. It notes that it still has steady mission expenses and ten years of fuel left for its thrusters.

Similar to Hubble, Chandra has had many patches to be put back together and is now running long beyond its initial design life. Nevertheless, the loss of either would be devastating because they are both vital instruments for astronomy and related disciplines. Chandra’s science mission would finish, even though it would not be officially dismantled, and all that remained was the remote possibility of a future budgetary rebirth.

Regretfully, the scientific community’s influence in the US Congress is somewhat limited. However, Americans may still get in touch with their senator or representative in Congress by following the guidelines on the Save Chandra website. Other ways include letting NASA and Congress know how unhappy you are on social media and by signing the community letter. If the scientific community puts forth enough effort, Chandra could be able to keep going until 2030.

Glasses are occasionally required for space telescopes. Sustaining their funding is frequently difficult.

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