Re: Question from ASTRO.

Ted Molczan (
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 09:18:10 -0500

Phil Chien wrote:

>I would take anything which Eric Chaisson says in his book with a grain of

I read Chaisson's book, The Hubble Wars, from cover
to cover, not long after it was released. I always
take anything that anyone says with a grain of
salt, yet I found that the story he told had the 
ring of truth. Where I had independent technical
knowledge, I found that he and I agreed sufficiently
that I could trust him.

Much of the dysfunctional, bizarre behaviour he
described, both individual and organizational, was
very typical of what I have seen in my experience
with corporatist structures, both public and private.
So, I had no trouble believing him on that score.

He made some pretty serious charges, but was able to
back them up to my satisfaction. Overall, he was 
pretty measured in his approach. My impression was 
that he still had much of his career ahead of him, 
so he was careful not to name too many names, or anger 
too many people. This was not someone about to commit 
career-suicide; or already retired and with little to 

> Eric was the head of education at the Space Telescope institute, and
>not somebody who was within the NASA system, or understood how the NASA
>system works.

He seemed to understand how NASA worked in relation to
the Hubble program, and his own role in the program,
which seems sufficient to me. Arguably, had he been
part of the NASA system, he might not have had the
perspective, or motivation to see the problems he
wrote about.

> In the words of one person he was "the ultimate outsider who
>thought he should have been an insider."

When this person writes her book on the subject, I
will consider reading it.

Clear skies!