This article originally published in
Air and Space Magazine

 Regardless of how it ultimately affects our understanding of the cosmos, the GP-B program has already succeeded in pushing the envelope of space technology engineering.

Everitt sums up his position with a classic bit of British understatement: "Hereís all we can say: That weíre pressing into a new and interesting area where we know eventually something has to be found. We do not know whether GP-B will find that something. But nobody at the moment has any much better ideas about where to find something, so maybe letís press on."

NASAís support for GP-B has run hot and cold. At one time then-administrator James Fletcher reportedly told a subordinate arguing for the program, "Weíve got the technology from it, letís just cancel it." Today more people seem to echo the sentiments of Charles Pellerin, formerly NASAís astrophysics director who says, "Iíd like to see it happen. But Iíve also created forums where we have discussions about it, because I feel the most important thing was to get the truth on the table, and letís all make decisions based on truth."

Thatís meant an endless series of review committees trooping through Stanford, most skeptical about GP-B when they started, almost all laudatory by the time they finished. Perhaps the most threatening group was convened early last year. "This was the committee to end all committees," says program manager Brad Parkinson, a co-principal investigator on the project and, before that, one of the founders of the Global Positioning System. "Everyone who had ever breathed a strong word against us was put on this committee."

Next