Friday, 14 June 1991 Washington, DC
1. SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE RESTORES ACCELERATOR
Working with a somewhat larger FY 92 Energy and Water allocation
than their House counterpart, the Committee recommended $509M for
the SSC, $75M more than the House agreed to last week, and $25M
for the injector upgrade at Fermilab, which got only $10M in the
House. The Committee even added $12M to CEBAF, which had been
shortchanged in the Administration request (WN 19 Apr 91). The bill still faces
floor action by the full Senate and eventual reconciliation with
the House version. Differences between the House and Senate are
usually split down the middle in conference.
2. BRILLIANT PEBBLES BLASTED OUT OF THE SKY BY PATRIOT
It seemed for a while that the only winner in the Gulf War might
be Star Wars. The success of the Patriot missile, the White House
argued, proved that missile defense is possible. The President
sought to turn the good press into a whopping 77% increase for
the new SDI plan called GPALS, Global Protection Against Limited
Strikes, which calls for 1,000 brilliant pebbles to be deployed.
The BP's might not take out any missiles, but they would destroy
the hated ABM treaty! Alas, Congress seems to think the Patriot
proved only that GROUND-BASED defenses work--and the House zeroed
out Brilliant Pebbles in spite of a Bush threat to veto the bill.
Now, a letter to Bush from three influential Republican Senators,
endorsing the House action, may have doomed Brilliant Pebbles.
3. NASA "SYNTHESIS GROUP" PRODUCES TOP SCIENCE FICTION OF
Vice President Dan Quayle charged a group of ex-
astronauts, space contractors, NASA officials and star warriors,
with seeking out "the most innovative ideas in the country" for
carrying out the Space Exploration Initiative of President Bush.
The "flack pack" responded with 70 pages of full-color images of
rockets and astronauts in heroic poses, mixed with the usual
moonshine about Helium-3 mines and "beaming" energy back to
earth. The 14-Earth days of lunar daytime provide abundant solar
energy, we are told; no mention is made of nights. Some of the
recommendations have a back-to-the-future ring; the panel calls
for reviving the Saturn booster and the nuclear propulsion
program (WN 5 Apr 91). With nuclear
rockets, the report claims, we can go to Mars so fast we won't
need to worry about the effects of weightlessness or cosmic rays.
A "storm shelter" is recommended for solar flares.
4. NO, NO, RON! YOU'RE THE PACKARD THAT'S IN CONGRESS!
Rep. Ron Packard (R-CA) inserted a statement into the 5 June
Congressional Record on the overhead controversy at research
universities. The steps that should be taken, the statement
says, "are described in more detail in a report, released in
1986, by a special committee of the White House Science Council
which I chaired with Dr. Allan Bromley." It was, of course, not
Congressman Ron Packard who co-chaired the study with Bromley, as
the entry in the Congressional Record would make it appear, but
industrialist David Packard.