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US news roundup: 14-20 May


This week: telescope problems, pandemic relief for universities and funding for biofuel R&D

In depth: Legislation for transforming the National Science Foundation has gathered steam in the US Congress, with cross-party agreement on using it to boost technology funding and ramp up research security.

Full story: US National Science Foundation shake-up advances in Congress

Also this week from Research Professional News

White House launches taskforce on science integrity—Cross-government group set to make integrity “paramount in federal governance for years to come”



Here is the rest of the US news this week…

Challenges remain for Hubble replacement

The James Webb Space Telescope, which is seven years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, is facing further issues, the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, has said. The planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is due for launch in October 2021, but “anomalies” with the rocket that will launch the orbiting observatory “will likely lead to a further delay”, according to the GAO. Other technical fixes mean the project may need to hold on to contractors for longer, further adding to the costs, the GAO said.

Universities and students get $36bn

The Department of Education has announced that it will provide grants to more than 5,000 higher education institutions and millions of students affected by the pandemic. The $36 billion in pandemic relief comes from the American Rescue Plan and is more than double the amount provided for students and institutions under existing relief acts, the department said. Students supported by the funding include those who came to the United States as undocumented migrants. “Every student struggling because of this pandemic deserves access to emergency aid,” said Patty Murray, the Democratic chair of the Senate’s education committee, welcoming the announcement.

$35m for 15 biofuel projects

The Department of Energy has awarded $35 million in funding to 15 biofuel R&D projects at colleges, universities and labs across nine states. The work on biofuels, such as ethanol and diesel derived from recently living plants or animals, is supported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.