Friday, 19 July 1991 Washington, DC
1. AMENDMENT TO SLASH SPACE STATION FUNDING REJECTED BY
In the face of mounting opposition from the
scientific community, the Senate voted by nearly two-to-one
against the cut. But in Washington they play the expectations
game: it's not whether you win or lose--it's whether you beat the
spread. The 35 Senators voting to kill the station included 7
who had signed a letter supporting it just days before; including
the influential Sam Nunn (D-GA). Huge projects, as someone said
of bad habits, are rarely thrown out of the window; they are
walked down the stairs one step at a time. Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-
AR), who introduced the amendment, predicted it would lose this
year--but win next. By then NASA will have spent nearly $8B (the
original total cost estimate) just in planning. During the
debate, Sen. Heflin (D-AL) produced a list of 74 "space spinoffs"
provided by NASA. Yes, there it was--stuck between portable ice
rinks and artificial teats for piglets--Magnetic Resonance
Imaging! Only last April, you may recall, MRI was a spinoff of
high-energy physics (WN 19 Apr 91). We
would like to inform our readers of any technologies on NASA's
list that can actually be shown to owe their existence to the
space program. We can send you the "space spinoff" list if you
would like to comment on the roots of the technologies.
2. SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE SEEKS RETURN TO GRAND
--and beyond! SDI has gone full circle. It began as a
way to get around the limitations of ground-based missile
defenses, by using space-based weapons. Armed Services wants to
redeploy ground- based defenses at Grand Forks, ND, which were
abandoned in the '70s as costly and ineffective. The Committee
called for $4.6B in FY 92 for SDI, $1.9B more than the House
approved. The bill includes funds for Brilliant Pebbles, which
the House zeroed out, and calls for negotiations to increase the
number of ground-based defense sites beyond the one allowed by
the 1972 ABM Treaty (WN 21 Jun 91).
But even as we go to press, a floor fight is being planned to
derail the proposal of the Armed Services Committee.
3. WILLIAM HAPPER'S CONFIRMATION HEARING TOOK JUST 18
He may face enormous problems as director of the
DOE Office of Energy Research (WN 31 May
91), but Senate confirmation is not going to be one of them.
The friendly low-key hearing, chaired by Sen. Bradley (D-NJ), did
not touch any areas of controversy.
4. APS OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS IN WASHINGTON SEEKS A
beginning 1 Sept 91. A PhD physicist with an
interest in public policy work is needed to provide support for
the Panel on Public Affairs, the Physics Planning Committee and
the Executive Director of the APS Office of Public Affairs. Dr.
Tina Kaarsberg, who currently fills the position, has been
selected as a 1991-92 APS Congressional Fellow. Those interested
should send a letter and resume to The American Physical Society,
2000 Florida Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20009. Please do not