Friday, 7 June 1991
1. SPACE SCIENCE IS SACRIFICED BY HOUSE TO RESTORE SPACE
Truth took a holiday in the floor debate over an
amendment to put $1.9B back into space station Freedom. The
debate was filled with talk about Columbus (Nancy Johnson (R-CT)
preferred to talk about "Isabella's boat") and preposterous
claims for spinoffs that would have left the most shameless SSC
flack gasping. Rep. Hall (D-TX) predicted a cure for cancer
would be found on the space station because "we haven't found it
on Earth and it must be out there somewhere." The amendment,
introduced by Rep. Jim Chapman (D-TX), took most of the $1.9B
from other NASA programs, leaving NSF intact but devastating
space science programs. NASA Administrator Richard Truly is said
to have approved the strategy as a means of disciplining space
scientists who opposed Freedom.
President Bush personally phoned Republicans urging their support
for the amendment. After the vote, Rep. Bob Traxler (D-MI), the
subcommittee chair who recommended termination of Freedom, warned
that "The space station is going to eat your dinner next year."
2. THE SPACE STATION DEBATE MOVES TO THE SENATE--NSF IS AT
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee
approved the allocation of dollars among its 13 subcommittees.
The HUD/VA/IA Subcommittee allocation, $81.26B, was only $0.05B
more than that of its House counterpart. That's not enough to
restore the space science programs that were cut by the House--
and if an attempt is made to restore the rent subsidy program,
which the Chapman Amendment also cut, it could threaten other
programs such as NSF.
3. JAPAN LINKS PARTICIPATION IN SUPERCOLLIDER TO SPACE
International partners in space station Freedom
had officially expressed indignation at the possibility that the
US might dump the space station at this late date. Privately,
however, they have been ambivalent at best. The Japanese have
threatened not to participate in the SSC if Freedom is cancelled,
but in fact they have shown no enthusiasm for the SSC anyway and
have refused every inducement to join. So far, Japan has spent
perhaps $300M on its part of the space station, compared to $5B
for the US. The Germans still face strong opposition from their
own scientists to any participation in the manned space station
(WN 28 Dec 90).
4. CERN PLANS TO CHARGE U.S. PHYSICISTS OVERHEAD--DOE IS
For the first time ever, the CERN Council approved
imposition of overhead charges on accounts of "certain non-member
countries," beginning 1 July 91. The rate is to start at 15%,
and double six months later. At a HEPAP meeting this week, the
official response of DOE was described as "Hell no!" Some US
physicists see the new charge as the opening salvo in a war
between CERN's LHC and the SSC; others say it is tit for tat--
retaliation for the user tax the U.S. has imposed all along.
Meanwhile, Sam Ting, whose L* detector proposal was rejected by
SSC (WN 10 May 91), reportedly defected
to the LHC. He will submit an L*+ proposal to the LHC.