Friday, 5 February 1999 Washington, DC
1. MISSILE DEFENSE? HOUSE LEADERSHIP MAKES IT A TOP PRIORITY.
Bills numbered one through ten are reserved for top legislative
priorities. As a service to our readers, therefore, WN will
allocate space to H.R.4 in its entirety: "It is the policy of the
United States to deploy a national missile defense." That's it.
That should be enough to abrogate the hated ABM treaty, which is
the real priority. Unlike the Senate version (S.269), the House
wording doesn't get all bogged down in details like "as soon as
is technologically possible"
(WN 29 Jan 99).
2SPACE STATION? "TECHNICAL PROBLEMS" WITH RUSSIAN MODULE.
It's barely February and WN's bold prediction of further delays
in the ISS can already be scored as a hit
(WN 1 Jan 99).
of the much delayed service module, which until now has suffered
mostly from money problems
(WN 9 Oct 98),
is now postponed until
at least September. That will take it perilously close the time
when the first two modules will need a re-boost
(WN 9 Oct 98).
Rep. James Sensenbrenner launched a rocket of his own at NASA for
ignoring the recommendation of the Chabrow Task Force that the
U.S. must sever dependence on Russia's failing space program to
keep the ISS on schedule
(WN 1 May 98).
Sensenbrenner quotes the
State Department as saying that removing Russia from the critical
path "would not be in the overall interests of U.S. foreign
policy." Although this latest delay is attributed to technical
problems, Russia's money woes are still worsening. The State
Statistics Committee yesterday reported a 4.6% drop in the Gross
Domestic Product. It was the worst drop in the GDP in four years.
3. MIR? SPACE MIRROR EXPERIMENT IS ABANDONED -- MIR IS NOT!
here's a news item: They had problems with a Mir experiment. The
idea was to have a 23 meter mirror, folded up on the cargo ship,
unfurl like the petals of a flower. Reflected sunlight could be
used to illuminate some dark region of Earth. (I personally have
a list of places that need illuminating.) This was to be the
prototype for 200 meter mirrors that would light up cities in
Siberia in the winter. Alas, with the world waiting in suspense,
the flower failed to bloom. A spokesman for the project lamented
that "We have forgotten the old principle of Russian space
programs -- to do something first and boast about only after."
There are no plans to repeat the experiment. Just last week, the
Russian Government approved a plan to extend the life of Mir if
private investment can be found. Hey, if BlackLight Power can
(WN 22 Jan 99).
The U.S. has been pressuring Russia
to dismantle Mir and concentrate their efforts on the ISS.
4. Y2K BUDGET: SCIENCE DOES WELL IN THE PRESIDENT'S REQUEST.
On Monday, policy wonks went through the annual ritual of rushing
from agency to agency getting briefed on the new asking budget.
You can find all the details at