Friday, 1 MARCH 1991 Washington, DC
1. NASA WILL PROPOSE A "RESTRUCTURED" SPACE STATION BY MID-
The new compact version sleeps only four, half as many astro-
nauts as the previous plan. That will save on electric bills and
simplify construction, but the astronauts may lie awake worrying
whether the shuttle will be back to pick them up; Discovery left
the launch pad yesterday--on its way back to the garage to have
its cracked door hinges fixed. That will take two months, and
the other shuttles apparently have contracted the same disease.
Cancelation of the March 8 shuttle flight was announced during a
House space subcommittee hearing yesterday, leading subcommittee
chairman Ralph Hall (D-TX) to wonder why we don't just lease a
little space on the Soviet station, Mir. The witness, Lennard
Fisk, Associate Administrator of NASA's Office of Space Science
and Applications, responded that Mir has inferior equipment!
2. TWO DAYS OF HEARINGS ON BUSH'S "NATIONAL ENERGY
left some people nostalgic for Carter's policy.
The hearings, held by the Science Space and Technology Committee
of the House, focused on the neglect of conservation and
alternative energy sources in the strategy. Sherwood Boehlert
(R-NY) commented that nuclear and fossil fuel R&D get twice as
much funding as all other sources. On the first day, Energy
Secretary Watkins deflected conservation criticism by questioning
claims that a 40-mpg standard would save 2.8 million barrels of
oil per day; his staff concluded it would save no more than 0.5.
When questioned about the goal of doubling the use of nuclear
power in the next twenty years, Watkins acknowledged that, if the
spent-fuel problem of the existing 110 nuclear plants is not
solved soon, "there won't be any future for nuclear power." The
second day, Budget Committee Chairman Leon Panetta (D-CA)
testified on his National Energy Strategy Policy Act (HR 560),
which seeks to fill the gaps in the NES. The bill contains the
novel idea of a floor price for oil coupled with a "standby"
gasoline tax that goes into effect only if oil prices drop.
Asked about fusion energy, OTA Director John Gibbons laughed and
said fusion energy will not "be keeping the lights on in the
lifetime of anyone in this room."
3. VICTOR WEISSKOPF WAS AWARDED THE NAS "PUBLIC WELFARE
for "a half-century of unflagging effort to humanize
the goal of science, to acquaint the public with the beneficial
potential of nuclear technologies, and to safeguard the world
against the devastation of nuclear war." The Public Welfare
Medal is the National Academy of Sciences's highest honor.
Previous recipients include Vannevar Bush, who headed America's
scientific effort in World War II, and former Surgeon General C.
Everett Koop. Weisskopf, a nuclear and high energy theorist, is
Institute Professor of Physics emeritus at MIT, where he has been
since leaving Los Alamos in 1945. Born in Vienna in 1908,
Weisskopf was a defining influence in the internationalization of
science and served as Director General of CERN from 1961 to 1965.