Friday, 5 June 1992 Washington, DC
1. IS THE DOE BUDGET BOTTOM UP?
An internal DOE report
on FY 93 science and energy priorities concludes that projects
tend to be budgeted in inverse proportion to their importance.
Projects were ranked primarily on 1) contribution to the energy
supply, 2) contribution to US economic growth, 3) ability to
reduce US "oil vulnerability," and 4) technical and market risk;
none of which are appropriate to basic research. The SSC ranked
10th out of 11 programs in science; materials science ranked 2nd.
But taking FY 91 as the base, the report says the '93 SSC request
is for a 169% increase; the materials science request is for a
21% cut. The odd report contends this reflects "political
2. SDIO POORLY GROUNDED.
Responding to congressional
criticism that SDIO is developing Brilliant Pebbles at the
expense of vital ground-based systems, director Henry Cooper
shifted nearly $1B to hurry a ground-based defense into operation
by 1997. But in an internal DOD review, Assistant Secretary of
Defense David Chu warns that SDIO risks failure by rushing
development of a ground-based system, skipping vital performance
tests. Chu wants a six year delay, putting the system on line in
2003. But Cooper says, "The risk is acceptable given the urgency
related to uncertainty in predicting when we might actually be
threatened with ballistic missile attack." To quote The Stones:
3. TECHNOLOGY WATCHDOGS THROW FSU A BONE.
For 40 years
the 17 COCOM members--Japan, Australia, and all NATO countries
except Iceland--have guarded militarily useful technology against
Soviet Union burgling. Now, they want the FSU to join the pack
and help keep this stuff out of the hands of Iraq, India etc.
4. AFTER 20 YEARS, PIONEER 10 STILL RESPONDS TO CALLS FROM
faithfully reporting on the last traces of the solar
wind. Some of the graying scientists who attended a birthday
party for the aging spacecraft this week spent their entire
careers analyzing the data Pioneer sends back. NASA
Administrator Daniel Goldin pledged a return to the "better,
faster, cheaper" NASA of 20 years ago, "We can't let grad
students turn into senior citizens as they wait for the work of
their lifetime to get launched."
5. NEW GAO REPORT REKINDLES CONTROVERSY OVER SPACE DEBRIS
Over 3.5 million pieces of man-made junk, ranging from deceased
satellites to flecks of paint, orbit Earth. But traveling at
10km/s, even a paint fleck has the impact of a bowling ball going
Mach one. Two years ago, another GAO report warned that NASA's
space debris model underestimated the hazard. The new report says
there is a 36% chance of debris connecting with a vital component
of Freedom during its 30 year lifetime. The shuttle Endeavor got
dinged on its maiden flight. NASA contends the danger is slight.
YESTERDAY WAS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE TIANANMEN