This article originally published in
Air and Space Magazine

The preliminary draft of the committee’s report came down hard against continuing the project. Essentially, the committee was concerned about the possibility that GP-B might yield results differing from earlier experimental tests of general relativity. In such an instance, said the report, it would be hard to conceive of an alternative theory that could account for the discrepancy. In response, Everitt swung into action, sending copies of the draft to over a dozen of the world’s top gravitational physicists. They in turn bombarded the head of the committee with glowing reviews of GP-B. Robert Reasenberg of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: "...a scientific and technological tour de force...This superb work offers NASA the opportunity for a significant success..." John Wheeler of Princeton: " will cast a brilliant light on marvels of new technology and of new measurement technique destined to have beneficial impact all across the spectrum of human endeavor." And so on.

The committee’s final report ended up backing the project. So did NASA’s Space Science and Applications Advisory Committee when it met a few months later. But when the most recent NASA budget got to Congress, GP-B, along with several other research programs, hadn't made the cut.

"I thought our troubles were over--it was really a surprise to me that we were canceled this year," Everitt says with a sigh. "GP-B has been canceled six times since 1980, all in different ways by different people, never by the same person twice for the same reasons."