I have read with interest your recent editorial in Space News, titled “Hope, However Slim, for a Miracle” [July 17, page10], which addressed the context of the NASA emergency spending amendment sponsored by Sen s. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). I applaud your call for widespread support of this amendment by communities that work with and for NASA.
I also strongly agree with your statement: “It is equally imperative that these constituency groups speak with a single, united voice on the matter.” I was troubled, however, by the, apparently gratuitous, singling out of the community of astronomers as prone to make the case for the priority of one field over another.
I do not deny that under the budget cutbacks that this special amendment is designed to ameliorate there is immense pressure on the research community and some special pleading. I want to assure you, however, that the official position of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is to support this special amendment with the confidence that a “rising tide will lift all boats,” and trusting to the wisdom of NASA officials in close consultation with interested communities, certainly including astronomers, to use these funds wisely.
The official AAS statement is posted at: http://www.aas.org/ governance/council/resolutions.html#nasaapp07 and http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=69155.
With this united front, I believe NASA can have a robust scientific program as well as a vibrant human space program.
J. Craig Wheeler
American Astronomical Society