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Volume 1, Issue 3      March 1994

BIG SCIENCE, BIG MONEY, BIG POLITICS

DOE, NASA Need To Focus On Smaller Projects

The American Physics Society Division of Astrophysics Newsletter (2/94) reports a subpanel of High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) chaired by Sid Drell has been put in charge of providing a vision for particle physics now that the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) is dead. IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY!

Fermilab, the largest particle accelerator before the SSC was proposed, was built on time and below projected costs -- another successful example of the government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) management model. JPL, perhaps the most innovative of NASA facilities, is also a GOCO facility. Yet the same organization that was lauded in its management of Fermilab's construction was ridiculed when attempting to build the SSC. It is a shame, too, and a foreboding omen for grandiose plans for space-based solar power systems intended to supply terrestrial needs.

The rule seems clear -- if a project is big enough to get the American public's attention, it is going to be over-whelmed with political overhead, cut back, run over schedule and over cost, and put egg all over the face of the science and energy research communities. The lesson for proposers of space-based solar power systems is to keep even conceptual proposals small by breaking them down into independently funded phases (as with the successful DC-X). -- Mark Ciotola

A quote attributed to one of Clinton's campaign spin doctors as seen in the movie The War Room -- "the harder you work, the luckier you get."

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National Solar Power Research Institute, Inc., © 1994.
Editor - Mark Ciotola; Assoc. Editor - A. To; Publisher - Peter Spangler. Contributing writers: Abdoulaye Yansane, Jean Wu, Ri-Xi Liang, Zilian Tang. Officers: Ri-Gui Dalia Liang, Ann Marie Cheng and Mark Ciotola. Subscriptions: 50 reimbursement per issue domestic / 23 plus postage foreign. A matching donation is suggested, but optional. Limited number of free copies available. Mail subscriptions and correspondence to the National Solar Power Research Institute, Inc., 601 Van Ness Avenue Suite E3248, San Francisco, CA 94102. V1 I3.