pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Jul 12 18:42:15 EDT 2002

Subject:   NanoGravity

WHAT'S NEW   Robert L. Park   Friday, 12 Jul 02   Washington, DC

The International Space Station was sold to Congress as science,
but a $5B budget shortfall halted work on two of the modules and
the crew was cut from 7 to a Mir-sized 3 (WN 9 Nov 01).  It was
that or hire Arthur Anderson to do the accounting.  The need for
budgetary discipline also led to a bean counter from OMB, Sean
O'Keefe replacing Dan Goldin (WN 16 Nov 01).  In March, O'Keefe
named a 20 member panel of scientists-turned-administrators,
mostly from the life sciences, to assess the ISS research
priorities.  The panel reported to the NASA Advisory Council on
Wednesday that there is no research on the ISS to assess.  The
crew of 3 can barely find time to clean the toilet.  So the panel
called for a larger crew, completion of the unfinished modules,
and more resupply missions.  In other words, undo everything done
in March to deal with budget overruns.  What were they thinking? 
It makes no sense to have a research laboratory that does no
research, but $5B is a lot of money.  Do we want to spend triple
the NSF research budget to have a bigger crew?  The only thing
the ISS has going for it is micro-gravity, but decades of micro-
gravity research on the Shuttle and Mir had no discernable impact
on any field of science.  Congress may be in a mood to scrap the
giant money-shredder; scientists should plead with them to do it.

Or the ISS could become a critical component of an anti-missile
defense program. That would assure generous (classified) funding. 

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