Friday, 24 Sept 1993 Washington, DC
1. SENATE ACTION ON FY 94 NASA APPROPRIATION FILLED WITH IRONIES!
By 59-40 the Senate approved $1.96B for Space Station Alpha, the
Freedom/Mir-2 hybrid, which most scientists view with contempt.
So, to balance things, the senators voted 77-23 to kill HRMS, the
High Resolution Microwave Survey, which would save $0.01B. HRMS,
in case you don't remember, is an assumed name for SETI, Search
for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
(WN 10/16/92), which has the
endorsement of scientific review panels. No intelligence has
been found yet--the search must have started in the Senate.
2. ALPHA PROVIDES COVER FOR ADVANCED SOLID ROCKET MOTOR (ASRM).
To be accessible from Russia, Alpha must be launched into a 51.6
degree orbit. Alas, then Alpha can't be reached by the shuttle--
unless we spend a lot of money to soup-up the shuttle. Actually,
we've ALREADY spent a lot of money on ASRM--$3.8B--it's 6 years
behind schedule, 100% over budget, and still no motors. After
Challenger, Jaime Whitten (D-MS), House Appropriations Committee
chair, saw right off that the shuttle needed a new engine. Would
you believe his district was chosen as the place to build it? But
NASA couldn't wait and came up with the Redesigned Solid Rocket
Motor. RSRM works fine, so two NASA panels called for scrapping
ASRM. The House killed it 379-43, and the Senate voted a mere
$100M. What's next? Last year the House killed it, the Senate
approved $50M--and they "compromised" in conference at $360M!
3. THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE DID DELETE ALL FUNDS FOR CIESIN.
A Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network
in Saginaw had made off with $100M dollars in earmarks inserted
in conference. CIESIN was intended to disseminate information
collected by EOS, but since the money to build EOS was going to
CIESIN there wasn't much information to disseminate. Why crack
down on CIESIN and not ASRM? Bob Traxler (D-MI), former chair of
the appropriations subcommittee, whose district included Saginaw,
left Congress. Jaime Whitten is old and infirm, but still there.
4. WILLIAM DANFORTH, CO-CHAIR OF COMMISSION ON THE FUTURE OF NSF,
reportedly has raised strong objections to distortion of the
Commission's recommendations by a Senate Subcommittee
5. SENATE ENERGY & WATER APPROPRIATIONS BILL WOULD RESTORE SSC.
Back in June the House killed it by a crushing 280-150. Now the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Bennett Johnston
(D-LA), has recommended full funding at $640M. Dale Bumpers
(D-AR) will introduce an amendment to kill it when it comes to the
Senate floor next week. Even if it survives the Senate, it will
face a battle in conference with the House. Speaker Foley has
reportedly agreed to demands of SSC opponents to give them fair
representation when he appoints the House conferees for the bill.
6. LOU IANNIELLO HAS ABRUPTLY RETIRED AFTER 30 YEARS AT DOE.