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as is the variable reference.
I can perform an "Alert" and can see the value of the
variable (and it is there and correct) before the code
for the window.open.
window.open('http://www.j-nasa.net/cgi-bin/fullrec.pl?code=rec_param', 'FullRecord',' width=1000,height=650,scrollbars=yes');
and the call to this function:
var myString = 'http:\/\/www.j-nasa.net/cgi-bin/fullrec.pl?code=' + ref_param;
window.open(myString, 'FullRecord', 'width=1000,height=650,scrollbars=yes');
The most significant error in your code was that you made "rec_param" a hard coded part of the URL of the window you opened.
Looks like RonPK beat me to it :)