To: "Michael R. Dupray" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: "There will not be a post-launch press conference." MER-B Delayed again and again...

July 6th, 2003

Dear readers,

Below are four followup letters about NASA's MER-B and a question sent to NASA yesterday.  If anyone knows (or can find out) exactly what a "launch vehicle's flight termination system" is, please let me know.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

1) Letter from Hans Karow to Dr. Michael R. Dupray
2) Letter from Gai Ogglesbee to Dr. Michael R. Dupray
3) Letter from Shiela Baker to Russell Hoffman
4) Letter from Richard Wilcox to Russell Hoffman
5) Letter to NASA regarding "launch vehicle's flight termination system" (includes several NASA Press Releases)
6) Newsletter authorship information

1) Letter from Hans Karow to Dr. Michael R. Dupray:

From: "Hans Karow" <>
To: <>
Cc: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: NASA's MER-B launch
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 23:46:08 -0700

Dear Dr. Michael R. Dupray
I refer to your June 30th, 2003 letter to Mr. Russell Hofmann, in which letter you downplayed the Plutonium issue.
Until shortly before Cassini's launch I knew little about the nuclear issue, as a matter of fact for a few years I lived about 30 km away form a nuclear power plant, was a nice picture....huge structures, cows grazing in front ! I was told this is clean and safe way to produce electricity and has almost no environmental impact.

Then I read an interesting story about the Cassini project, first I found it a great idea, very great! But, then reading about Cassini's nuclear issue....that let my now farmer's brain do some research, and I succeeded in contacting pro- and contra nuclear supportive eminent scientists...and as a result of my research I have come up with "FACTS ABOUT CASSINI'S PLUTONIUM" which you may please find at:
Is there anything you do not agree with the FACTS, please state and also please state why and give references.
So far I think you have grossly understated the Plutonium issue in your letter to Mr. Hoffman.
Hans Karow
Oliver, BC, Canada

2) Letter from Gai Ogglesbee to Dr. Michael R. Dupray:

From: "Gai Oglesbee" <>
Subject: Revision >> Fwd: NASA's MER-G launch -- Another  potential
 radiation exposure concern
Cc: Gai <>,

"Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Date: Thu, 03 Jul 2003 15:30:56 -0400
Message-ID: <>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=""
X-UIDL: H=K!!Rjk"![AH"!\!U!!

Mr. Dupray:

My message is revised. You see, my cataracts are inoperable because the cells that line my cornea are destroyed (missing).  I have to work at revisions with a little more care these days.

Revised response >> RE: NASA's MER-G launch -- Another potential radiation exposure concern
At 03:03 PM 6/30/2003, "Michael R. Dupray" <> wrote and Gai Oglesbee (victim) responds:

Dupray >> Your brief message is circulated and viewed by many advocates and victims as blatant.

Oglesbee >> So, you report that you think you are the smartest of us all.

It is truly incredible how novices and dutifully employed government advocates like you identify themselves as "pro-nuclear" -- those who support human exposure to abnormally dangerous radioactive material.  Remember, the Columbia crashed that spread toxins all over the countryside. You seem all too eager to admit you amuse yourself by insulting thousands of your fellow Americans who are critically injured by radiation exposure. There are five immediate members of my family that are battling with the effects of cancer caused by toxic exposures such as this.

I don't know how old you are, but you may already be developing related disease.  "What goes around, comes around."

Dupray >> The size of the Pu is somewhere around the size of a large marble. It would have to be vaporized in order to be inhaled.

Oglesbee >> You compare the size to a large marble?  That would represent a devastating dose if inhaled since PU is listed by experts as the second most deadly toxin.  PU has already been inhaled by thousands who are sickened by the fallout that the government tier already admits caused death, disease and suffering of untold numbers of victims. It is quite apparent that you argue your point without verification of your fellow Americans' findings of fact. That makes you "ignorant of the facts before you."

Dupray >> Then the dilution factor would be huge. If the space craft were to catastrophically explode, the Pu would probably remain intact as a projectile and fall harmlessly into the ocean. If it were to disintegrate into the atmosphere upon reentry it would vaporize in the upper atmosphere and be greatly dispersed and diluted greatly in many ways. True, it is not good to have it vaporized or made into a projectile,. . .

Oglesbee >> And, you could take your findings before a tribunal of your peers; establish yourself as an expert without question; and prove every single "thing" you present. . .???  Now, your ideal deserves a snicker or two, Mr. Dupray.

Dupray >> but, really....this is scare tactics based on SOME facts that are lacking a whole lot of other data.

Oglesbee >> that is what you "pro-nuclear" adicts say to those who are sickened by exposure to radiation and the scientists who oppose your imagination and hypothesis.

1. How would you like to try to impress me? I will be sure to destribute your attempt to many interested Parties from across the Nation that I feel are necessary to contact.

2. Tell me, what do you feel makes your ideals important above all else?

Gai Oglesbee, National Indpendent Advocate
National Nuclear Workers for Justice Co-chair
Retired, Occupationally Injured Hanford Worker
Member of the Northwest Downwinder Coalition

3) Letter from Shiela Baker to Russell Hoffman:

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 2003 13:10:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: sheila baker <>
Subject: Re: NASA's missed "Opportunity" -- NASA's naughty nuclear nightmares -- The Fall of the Machines
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>


Also remember that the places that produce the
plutonium for these missions are injured. Mounds,
Miamisburg Ohio (Kucinich's state) is contaminated
with plutonium. ORNL is being considered.
Unfortuntately, Oak Ridge is already contaminated.

As usual, it's the plutonium cycle.


4) Letter from Richard Wilcox to Russell Hoffman:

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2003 20:23:34 +0900
Subject: Re: NASA's missed "Opportunity" -- an opportunity for disaster!
From: Richard Wilcox <>
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>


It may be worth trying to get Jim Harris to work on this issue. His service
reaches many people, who in term send letters to many gov reps (I

They are poorly staffed so it may take them a while to get on this issue
(not in time I guess), but might be worthwhile for such future launches?


Jim Harris' Progressive Secretary
Make Your Voice Heard through this political letter writing service.

5) Letter to NASA regarding "launch vehicle's flight termination system":

To: Bruce Buckingham, NASA News
"Buckingham-1, Bruce" <>

Re: Questions about the "launch vehicle's flight termination system" problem causing MER-B delay

July 5th, 2003


Is the "launch vehicle's flight termination system" referred to in the first paragraph of the NASA press release shown below more commonly known as a "self-destruct mechanism"?

Is this the mechanism that would be activated if, for example, the Delta-2 aims itself towards a civilian area following a burn-through of its skin where the cork insulation tears off because it isn't properly attached?  Just as an example, of course -- it could be anything from winglets falling off, to thrust vectoring systems misbehaving, to bird strikes, that might cause a powered-impact into Florida.

What is the part number for the battery?  How many volts does it put out?  When was it last checked? How many other battery-operated systems exist in the Delta-2 launch vehicle?  How much do the flight termination mechanisms cost, and what redundancy is built into those mechanisms?

What if the operator who is supposed to push the button to initiate the self-destruct has a heart attack right at the opportune moment -- does he have a backup to do it for him?  What if he just doesn't do it for no good reason -- is there a computer backup program to make sure it happens?  Has that program been thoroughly tested in actual flights that were destroyed by its use?

What amount of the plutonium payload on board MER-B does NASA believe might be released if the self-destruct mechanism fails during a powered impact into the ground shortly after launch?  Where on the Web has NASA documented their assessment of the potential health hazards from such an accident in, for example, downtown Miami on a holiday weekend?

Thank you in advance for your rapid response to these questions.


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA


At 07:55 PM 7/5/2003 , "Buckingham-1, Bruce" <> wrote:
National Aeronautics and
Space Administration

John F. Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899
AC 321-867-2468
For Release: July 5, 2003

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center

KSC Release No. 56-03


The launch of the MER-B Mars Exploration Rover "Opportunity" aboard a Boeing
Delta II rocket has been postponed an additional 24 hours.  The delay is due
to the failure of a battery cell associated with a component of the launch
vehicle's flight termination system.  The battery must be removed and

Launch is now targeted for no earlier than Monday, July 7.  The two launch
times available are 10:35:23 and 11:18:15 p.m. EDT.  The forecast calls for
a 30% chance of not meeting the launch weather criteria on Monday evening.

At Pad 17-B, a tanking test of the Delta rocket was conducted this morning.
The first stage was loaded with cryogenic liquid oxygen to evaluate the
bonding of the lower band of cork thermal insulation.  This afternoon, NASA
and Boeing managers met to discuss the outcome of the tanking test and other
associated testing and engineering evaluations that have been conducted over
the last several days.

After the tanking, inspections revealed some selective debonding of the cork
from the surface of the vehicle within a limited area.  These locations are
being repaired using a different adhesive with a stronger bonding
characteristic as demonstrated by tests conducted at KSC late this week.
This work was completed tonight and the problem has been resolved to the
satisfaction of engineers.

-- end --


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July 3, 2003

George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center

MISSION: Mars Exploration Rover (MER-B/Opportunity)
LAUNCH PAD:  17-B, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station
LAUNCH DATE:  July 6, 2003
LAUNCH TIME:  10:43:16 p.m. / 11:26:02 p.m. EDT

          The launch of the MER-B Mars Exploration Rover has been rescheduled to occur on Sunday, July 6.  A loading of the first stage of the Delta launch vehicle with liquid oxygen is currently scheduled for Saturday morning.  This is being done to assure launch vehicle engineers that proper bonding of the cork insulation with the surface of the first stage has been achieved.  Meanwhile, other related test and evaluation continues.  A launch readiness review is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

[[[ non-relevant details clipped  ]]]

Letter authorship information:

This letter was written by Russell D. Hoffman.

This newsletter will be available online here:

The previous newsletter in this series is available online here: