WHAT'S NEW by Robert L. Park Friday, 4 Mar 94 Washington, DC 1. INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATIO
WHAT'S NEW by Robert L. Park Friday, 4 Mar 94 Washington, DC
1. INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION AGREEMENT SEEMS TO BE UNRAVELING!
Canada last week announced its intention to "negotiate an orderly
reduction in commitments to the space station." NASA is offering
to help Canada free up funds for the station by "cooperating" on
other Canadian space projects, thus preserving the appearance of
a partnership. But that could force NASA to make up the full cost
of the Mr. Fixit robot that was to be Canada's contribution, and
NASA itself faces a $500M cut in FY 95 (WN 12 Nov 93). Meanwhile,
the European Space Agency is reexamining its space priorities.
Russian participation is causing some Republican supporters, most
notably Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), to have second thoughts.
2. NUMBER OF LAUNCHES REQUIRED TO BUILD THE SPACE STATION SOARS.
According to Space News, the current estimate is 30 US shuttle
missions and 48 Russian launches. Why so many? The 51.6-degree
orbit needed for launches from Russia reduces the amount of cargo
the shuttle can carry. Moreover, a Russian refueling mission will
be needed every 90 days just to maintain the station's relatively
low construction orbit (219 miles). At his press conference in
San Francisco last week (WN 25 Feb 94), Rep. George Brown (D-CA)
warned that the space station will crowd out space science, the
reverse of the Augustine Commission's recommendation (WN 14 Dec
90). "If the situation doesn't improve," Brown warned, "the
space station will be doomed; if so, I would rather kill it now."
3. DOCTORATE-HOLDING SCIENTISTS HAVE EXTREMELY LOW UNEMPLOYMENT,
according to the 1993 "Science and Engineering Indicators," which
just came off the press. "Indicators" is an annual report issued
by the National Science Board. "Although scientists have been
vocal in their complaints about the lack of jobs, few data are
currently available to support their contention. The most recent
comprehensive, statistically valid doctoral employment data are
for 1991; 1993 data are not yet available." (Pop Quiz: Can you
think of any world event between 1991 and 1993 that might affect
the job market in science?) The report acknowledges that several
professional organizations, including the American Institute of
Physics and the Young Scientists Network, have been documenting
employment difficulties faced by new PhDs, but it suggests this
is because they focus on permanent full-time academic positions.
4. THE WASHINGTON SHUTTLE: A CHANGE IN DEPUTY DIRECTOR AT NSF.
Anne C. Petersen, Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School
at the University of Minnesota, will be nominiated by the White
House to replace Frederick Bernthal. Her field is adolescence.
5. THE SECRET IS OUT! PERSONAL OPINION CREEPS INTO WHAT'S NEW!
It's time to come clean. Concealed among the factual events I
report each week are my--gasp!--opinions! To make this clear,
the APS asks that I include the following warning in every issue:
Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by
The American Physical Society (or anyone else on this planet).
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank