Friday, June 18, 2004
1. MOONDOGGLE: BACK TO THE REAGAN-MEMORIAL MOON AND ON TO MARS.
The Moon/Mars Commission report, http://www.moontomars.org, made public at a Wednesday press conference, calls for first getting out of low-Earth orbit. Good! There is no need to replace the Shuttle if we dump the space station, which is now recognized as just an obstacle to doing anything else. From there on the press conference went downhill. There was much talk of increasing "privatization." How much will Moon/Mars cost? The report calls for "go as you pay." Translation: "When the program is completed we'll know how much it cost." Meanwhile, the plan is to eliminate programs that don't contribute to Moon/Mars. Employing what might be termed "orbital reasoning", Chairman Pete Aldridge explained that commitment to a Mars program would stimulate public interest, which would in turn increase public demand for the Mars program. And the benefits? The commission promised there would be "stuff we haven't even imagined." That's understandable. WN has also been unable to imagine any stuff.
2. VISION? KERRY CRITICIZES THE BUSH SPACE EXPLORATION AGENDA.
In written responses to questions submitted by Space News, Kerry characterized Bush's plan as big on goals but short on resources. "There is little to be gained from a Bush space initiative that throws out lofty goals, but fails to support those goals with realistic funding." Perhaps the scientific community could help by suggesting a few scientific goals of space research.
3. MISSILE DEFENSE: SENATE REJECTS CALL FOR INDEPENDENT TESTING.
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted this week to proceed with President Bush's proposed missile defense system, which is scheduled to be deployed in October. Amendments that would subject the system to independent testing before deployment were proposed by Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and were voted down. This is perfectly reasonable, since a non-working missile defense system should be sufficient to deter a nonexistent missile threat from Iran or North Korea. Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) proposed that the Pentagon test its own system, rather than risk faithless skepticism of an independent agency. However, inability of the system to shoot down incoming missiles is irrelevant, since John Kerry is the real target.
4. MISCONDUCT: SCHOEN LOSES DOCTORAL DEGREE FOR FALSIFYING DATA.
The University of Konstanz has revoked the doctoral degree of J. Hendrik Schoen, a former physicist for Bell Labs who was fired two years ago (WN 27 Sep 02) for falsifying data. The school cited its legal right to revoke his degree on the grounds that he behaved in an "undignified" manner. Schoen was busted in 2002 after other scientists discovered almost identical data in two completely unrelated papers of his.
Paul Gresser contributed to this week's issue of What's New.