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US Senate Panel OKs Next Step In $550M MSU 'FRIB' Project

EAST LANSING (WWJ/AP) - The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $55 million for the next step in the development of a $550 million physics research project at Michigan State University.

The move follows the House Appropriations committee's approval earlier this week of money for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, more commonly referred to as FRIB. Full congressional approval would let construction start in the coming fiscal year on the project.

Michigan Democratic U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow praise the project as important to U.S. science and Michigan's economy.

"This is a major milestone for FRIB, which is vital to America's preeminence in nuclear research and an important investment in Michigan," Levin said in a statement.

Located on campus and operated by MSU, FRIB will provide intense beams of rare isotopes, or elements that are not normally found on Earth. Officials say FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of these rare isotopes in order to better understandthe universe and harness the power of nuclear science for practical applications.

The East Lansing school won a national competition to host the project in 2008, but budget concerns had threatened funding.

Backers have estimated that the project will create 5,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent jobs.  Officials say the project will contribute an estimated $1 billion to Michigan's economy in its first decade.

Follow progress of the FRIB project at

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