Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Faster, Better, Cheaper' Shot at NASA Misses Mark

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

'Faster, Better, Cheaper' Shot at NASA Misses Mark

Article excerpt

Thank you for your attention to the complex debate over the merits of NASA's "faster, better, cheaper" policy ("Martian mix-up, an overtaxed NASA?", Nov. 12).

Please be aware, though, that in building a case against "faster, better cheaper," the current status of the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) project is misrepresented.

Although unanticipated delays have kept FUSE in the checkout phase longer than expected, it is already providing spectroscopic observations in far ultraviolet light that are unprecedented in their sensitivity, detail, and resolution.

For instance, FUSE has already produced more high resolution far- ultraviolet spectroscopic data on active galaxies and their nuclei than is available from nine years of Hubble Space Telescope observations.

We still have some work to do to reach our full capability, but we are confident that we can adjust our procedures and FUSE's equipment to do just that.

The depiction of FUSE as a mission in trouble because of the "faster, better, cheaper" philosophy is inaccurate and misleading. The statement that the FUSE satellite "...has been unable to properly focus its mirrors on distant targets" is not only technically inaccurate, but untrue. Focus has not been the issue, but rather the alignments of certain optical components, and these problems are more of the "growing pains" variety, not mission threatening.

William Blair, Baltimore, Md. FUSE chief of mission planning Kenneth Sembach, deputy project scientist

Missile-defense common sense

Regarding "Forcing a rethink of global security," (Nov. 12): The article did an excellent job of pointing out the obstacles confronting the US desire to build a national missile-defense system. By pointing out these impediments, the article amplified both the need for the system and the need to stay on course with plans to build it.

The Clinton administration's plan to build a first-generation antiballistic missile network is a good first step toward providing Americans with protection from the possibility of a nuclear strike from North Korea or other rogue nations, such as Iran. …

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