Friday, 26 June 98 Washington, DC
1. SPACE STATION: "HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM."
The ISS is over budget, behind schedule, Russia can't meet its commitment,
and last week, the House VA/HUD/IA subcommittee cut $170M from its funding. In
a letter to President Clinton, the House Science Committee requested a plan
within thirty days detailing how the Administration proposes to resolve the
problems. At a Committee hearing on Wednesday the word "cancellation" was
being used openly. "If we cancel the space station," Dan Goldin warned, "we
will be canceling manned space flight." He added that there would be
"international repercussions." But in Paris last week, France's Space
Minister said he would not be surprised if the ISS was scrapped. Sending
humans into space, he said, "is expensive, no longer makes people dream and
has no scientific value."
2. NUCLEAR WASTE: A PROMISING SOLUTION IS DELAYED A FEW YEARS.
If you like worms, you've gotta love "California Red Superworms."
They eat nuclear waste! Keep em as pets if you like, but Thomas
Stanley Huntington's advice was to breed em and make millions
selling them to federal nuclear waste repositories. Huntington
offered to help people get started. At $125 per pound of worms,
it was a steal -- or at least that's what the New Mexico attorney
general's office decided. Huntington now faces up to 12 years on
a fraud conviction. In spite of the setback to the
nuclear-waste-eating-worm market, WN assures its readers that the superworms
are every bit as effective as the Patterson Cell
(WN 13 Jun 97 )
3. DOE: OTHER PROGRAMS TRIMMED TO PAY FOR RENEWABLE INCREASE.
Senate appropriators agreed to trim 1.6% from the FY 99 funding
of non-defense R&D to provide an additional $70M for renewable
(WN 19 Jun 98 ).
Of that, $47M will come from
Energy Research, which funds the sort of basic science on which
renewable programs depend. The cuts are typical of the erosion
that often besets science funding as the Oct 1 deadline
approaches. The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.
4. DOUBLING: FEDERAL RESEARCH INVESTMENT ACT ENTERS THE RING.
It worked like a tag-team. The Frist-Rockefeller bill, S.2217, took
over from Gramm-Lieberman, S.1305, which ran out of energy in the
Labor and Human Resources Committee. The principal changes are
to stretch the doubling period from ten years to twelve and set
up a structure for monitoring the progress of federal R&D. It
seems that all of the cosponsors of S.1305 embrace the new bill.
Asked how many cosponsors the bill needs, Frist responded that it
only needs one -- if that one is the chair of the Science, Space
and Technology Subcommittee. Frist is the subcommittee chair.
5. MIR: 130-TON STATION MAY BE ABANDONED DUE TO FUNDING CRISIS.
If so, it will make an uncontrolled reentry. However, if you
hold WN above your head, WN guarantees that you won't be struck.