The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Friday, February 04, 2005

Hubble death watch

Another update from physicist Robert Park's newsletter. Things aren't looking good for Hubble, which is tragic. It looks like a wonder of science is going to fall prey to the Congressional budgetary axe. At least students will be learning the scientific wonders of creationism. This really is a disgrace, even if it doesn't prompt the same level of outrage as other follies of the new Republican regime. Read it and weep:

In his opening statement at a hearing on Hubble options, Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Chair of the House Science Committee, observed: "One can't help but root for it"; surely he can do more than that. It's widely expected that on Monday the President's asking budget will only include funds to dump Hubble in the Ocean. What madness compels this act? Hubble, Joe Taylor testified, "is still in the prime of its scientific life." Steven Beckwith, director of the Space Telescope Institute, said it's the nation's "most productive science facility." It was designed to be serviced by the shuttle. The James Webb Space Telescope won't go on line before 2011. Even more powerful, we will no doubt come to view JWST with the kind of affection we now feel for Hubble. But long before that happens Hubble is posed to explore dark energy and extrasolar planetary systems. The official explanation for cutting the service mission to Hubble is that, at more than $1B, it's too expensive. Whoa! Lou Lanzerotti testified that it would cost no more than a flight to the ISS, and the nation is committed to 25-30 shuttle flights to the ISS. Would someone tell us what the ISS is doing? And how is NASA paying for 25-30 flights at $1-2B each? Is Ken Lay doing NASA's books?
To sum up:

$25 billion for pointless trips to the International Space Junkheap? You bet!
$ 1 billion to maintain the nation's "most productive science facility"? Nonsense!