To: "Michael R. Dupray" <>
From: "Russell D. Hoffman" <>
Subject: Re: NASA's missed "Opportunity" -- NASA's naughty nuclear nightmares -- The Fall of the Machines

June 30th, 2003

Dear Readers,

NASA's MER-B launch has been delayed yet again.  The new earliest possible launch date is July 5th, 2003.

This nuclear launch should be stopped completely -- see comments below the NASA press release for why.


Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

Letter to an LBL scientist who responded to my previous email about NASA's MER-B:

To: "Michael R. Dupray" <>
cc: Senator Barbara Boxer
Re: Dr. Dupray's email to me of June 30th, 2003

Dear Well-Paid Government Apologist With a Degree in Science and no Love of Humanity:

Your description (shown in its entirety below) is short on truth and long on UNSCIENTIFIC hoopla.  The main thing missing from my dispatch was that I forgot to mention that if the plutonium pellets (there are almost a dozen of them) come back intact, they could be recovered by terrorists and used as weapons against us.  The plutonium is most dangerous when vaporized, which is exactly what would happen in a variety of accident or terrorist scenarios.

And why have you ignored the process of bioaccumulation, especially in Florida or Africa after an early launch accident?  Perhaps it's because it doesn't fit your model of "if you can't see it, it can't possibly kill you".

And what does "probably" mean in your paragraph?  10%? 1%? 80%?  Do you actually know the numbers (the NASA estimates for this particular launch, which are usually calculated to two decimal places, and usually totally bogus, and their pretended accuracy, totally misleading)?

Dilution -- on which you rest half your claim that the launch is safe (the other half rests on your claim that the containers are adequate, when in fact they are NOT adequate) occurs -- duh.  But how dilute can it really be, with about seven billion people on this planet, and growing?  With everyone eating dozens of tons of food in a lifetime, drinking thousands of gallons of water and other liquids, and breathing millions of cubic feet of air, and swimming in our polluted rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, and oceans? There isn't as much space between each of us as NASA pretends, especially when one considers how many acres are needed to produce high-environmental-usage foods such as beef, pork, chicken, etc..  And the dilution will be spotty, with some places receiving much more radiation than other places.  Those people's risks will be higher.  But no one will be able to tell.  The deaths will not be "added together" because even though they are, in fact, part of a cluster of some sort, they are spread out among millions of people nonetheless.  For example, if the rocket came down mostly over Mozambique or Zimbabwe, there might be thousands more deaths there, than half-way around the world, but still, among the "teaming masses", it would be unprovable.  How many could be killed this way?  Thousands?  Tens of thousands?  Perhaps even millions, over the entire 2,000-year radiological life of plutonium 238 (taken to be about 20 times its half-life)?  I sure wouldn't want THAT legacy hounding me to MY grave!  But that's what will hound you to yours and beyond, if NASA screws up and DOES defy their self-serving odds, and splashes hundreds of Curies of Pu across the poverty-stricken multitudes of Africa.

One of the main effects of dilution -- your panacea for that which is not contained even in a "worst case" scenario (for example, a full-stack impact) -- is to hide the deaths that occur in the statistical jumble of 1/3 of humanity dying of cancer anyway.  To then turn that around and pretend those deaths don't happen at all is tantamount to premeditated murder -- and you're a willing accomplice!

Calling my document "laughable" is libel, and it's disgusting.  Do you laugh at leukemia and cancer patients, and deformed babies, to their face?  More to the point, how many beagles, rats, mice, or whatever have YOU personally fed plutonium in very low doses, to see what the effect actually is?  Have you read the 2003 Recommendations of the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR), which shows the withering power of scientific proof indicating internal particulate levels of Low-Level Radiation are likely to be much more dangerous than ICRP (International Committee for Radiological Protection, who are supported by the nuclear industry) standards would suggest? (ICRP standards are, of course, based on whole-body, relatively high external doses, which are simply "As Low As Reasonably Achievable" ("ALARA" ), which means whatever the industry needs it to mean to stay in business.)   In some cases, the ECRR report finds dangers from internal particles appear to be an order of magnitude more dangerous than ICRP standards suggest, and in others, perhaps as much as 200 times or more, more dangerous.  Such dangers result, in part, because of the effect of multiple radioactive decay "hits" over time in the immediate area of the radioactive particle, thus damaging a cell repeatedly during its various stages of growth, rather than just once here, and once there, but almost never twice in the same glob of a few hundred cells, and around that a few thousand, and then around that, a few tens of thousands of living, reproducing, replicating, DNA-containing, thriving, aging, human cells which would surround a particle of plutonium inside a human body (say, in the lung).  The DNA replication has certain times within its replication cycle -- the life-cycle of both the cell and an individual double-helix strand of DNA within it -- when absolute precision is necessary because repair is impossible.  (Other times, the destruction of one element in the paired sequence is sometimes -- perhaps even "often" -- repairable (for this to happen, the intact (undamaged) other side presumably acts as a "backup copy", although the mechanisms for such behavior are unknown).)

It's not rocket science.  It's the science of why plutonium is so dangerous in particulate form.  Especially Pu 238, emitting 283 times as many alpha particles per unit of time as an equal number of Pu 239 (weapons-grade) atoms.  Each particle from a vaporized Radioactive Heater Unit, or Radioactive Power Source, though invisible and widely spread on Earth (two factors which help NASA hide its culpability), is itself billions or trillions of atoms. Each particle is capable of lodging permanently in a human lung -- there is a biological half-life for retention, but the rate can easily be the rest of a person's life, especially if the particle shortens that person's life by causing lung cancer.  Some particles are expectorated or otherwise removed from the body.  But some aren't, and those particles irradiate whatever they are near, whenever they decay.  That starts a chain of biological processes ending in PREMATURE DEATH.  These deaths are widely distributed, numbering, perhaps, just one extra death per decade in a small city -- way too small to notice, statistically (but someone, and their family and friends, suffers).  A pro-nuker told me recently that a human body urinates about a million atoms of plutonium per day.  His claim was apparently that therefore, the millions of atoms we FAIL to expel each day do not harm us.  He had no proof, and there actually IS plenty of proof that radioactive particles kill people, even in phenomenally small doses.

It's easy to find well-paid apologists for NASA's naughty nuclear nightmares.  Its very hard to find any who actually have a leg to stand on when the details are fully presented.  I've seen the studies NASA and its supporters rely on, and I've seen the studies people who oppose NASA, such as Caldicott, Busby, Bertell, and Gofman, rely on.

There is no way in this Universe that true science supports your libelous claims that NASA has solved the problems for which Karl Z. Morgan, with others behind him, demanded and got any containment system at all.  (Prior to SNAP-9A's loss in 1964, NASA simply dispersed the plutonium in the event of an accident, with no apologies.)

The containment system has the unfortunate effect of greatly reducing efficiency, AND it allows NASA to pretend there is now "no problem".  But the truth is, sometimes the containment system will fail when accidents occur.  Such an accident could concentrate the poison in a relatively small area -- look at the footprint from Columbia -- it was, of course, localized in various counties in Texas.  In such an accident, the Pu might or might not disperse at high altitude.

The odds are calculated in 1000 different inaccurate ways by NASA "scientists" with their own financial futures at stake and absolutely ZERO interest in investigating the wealth of opposing literature.  They simply pass the word around that this "anti-nuke" scientist is inaccurate, or that one is "biased", or that one has been "discredited", or that one has lost touch with reality.  It's you who has lost touch, you and all the other yapping criminals who have legitimized murder as long as the deaths are scattered and untraceable.

People are dying because of you.  Instead of seeking non-nuclear solutions to these trivial engineering problems, NASA actually comes up with "science" missions for which nuclear can be presented as a compelling choice (if the dangers from LLR and actual accident rates are both ignored, or paid only lip service), just to keep the system of nuclear payloads in operation -- the factories, the design rooms, the assembly process, for "secret" use by the military.  The Rover units didn't need to be nuclear.  It would probably even have been cheaper, and would have benefited all of humanity if solar advances had been made to enable this mission's scientific "return on investment" rather than settling for the nuclear option.

NASA could be great -- and I'm sure many people that work there agree with my assessment of the situation more than they agree with yours.  They are terrified into silence because every time the subject comes up, some rabid pro-nuker attacks honest assessments of our nation's biggest folly.  These nuclear apologists libel anyone who suggests an alternative viewpoint, with near-total impunity.  

But your impunity is not total.  History will denounce you even more than I ever could, because history will suffer the losses from NASA's mad, pro-nuclear policies.  I only envision it.  Future generations will have to live with it.  They will hate you ever so many times more than I ever could, but that doesn't give you a license to drop the debate without doing the research.  Instead of laughing, why don't you just TRY to prove your case, with numbers and facts instead of lashing out libel?

You've thrown down the gauntlet.  I've picked it up.  Either withdraw your libel or prove me wrong.   NASA sucks, and you either don't know what you're talking about, or you're lying.  Which is it?

Russell Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA


At 03:03 PM 6/30/2003 , "Michael R. Dupray" <> wrote:

This is pretty laughable[]
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. 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, but, really....this is scare tactics based on SOME facts that are lacking a whole lot of other data.


NASA press release regarding MER-B:

At 01:41 PM 6/30/2003 , "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: June 30, 2003


George H. Diller
Kennedy Space Center

KSC Release No:  53 - 03


The launch of the MER-B "Opportunity" Mars Exploration Rover aboard the Boeing Delta II Heavy Iaunch vehicle has been postponed to no earlier than Saturday, July 5.

A decision was made today to take additional time to perform tests on the process used to bond the cork insulation to the surface of the Delta II launch vehicle. These tests should be complete late on Wednesday.

     The launch times on Saturday evening are: 10:51:25 p.m. and 11:34:05 p.m. EDT.

Note to Editors:

          Omar Baez, NASA launch director for MER-B, will be available at the KSC press site on Tuesday at 10 a.m. for an informal meeting with news media who would like to ask questions about the latest postponement.

-- end --


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Comment on this launch, by Sheila Baker (clip):


We need to ask the aerospace caucus, Kucinich, Weldon,
Capps, et al, to bring forth our concerns to Congress.
They ask for the big NASA bucks, yet fail to mention
how dangerous this mission and future missions will
be. From what we know about Capps whose district is
Vandenberg, she doesn't get elected unless she pitches
for NASA. Same is true for other aerospace caucus

The peace movement seems to think that these missions
are peaceful and ok. Wonder why. Probably because
Kucinich HR3616 spread propaganda about so called
peaceful uses of space without bringing forward this
problem (section 6 pitched for taxpayer money to go to
commercial development and accompanying spying of
outer space).


(end of clip)


Original Commentary on NASA's latest nuclear folly:

Subject: NASA's missed "Opportunity" -- an opportunity for disaster!

June 30th, 2003

Dear Readers:

NASA plans to launch about 1.1 ounces of Plutonium 238 into space, as part of a mission called Opportunity (aka MER-B).  It is the second of two plutonium-laden missions to explore Mars.

If an accident occurs during launch, the plutonium can be vaporized into our atmosphere.  That is the most dangerous form of plutonium.  The particles would be approximately 5 to 10 microns in diameter, the perfect size for permanently lodging in the human lung.

NASA's containment system for the plutonium is unlikely to be 100% effective, as any scientist or engineer can see by looking carefully at the data provided by NASA itself (and not listening to NASA's spokespeople, who see nothing wrong with calling a spade a rose garden).

The radiological half-life of Pu 238 is about 87.75 years.  According to Dr. Helen Caldicott, 1.1 ounces (about 30 grams) is many times more than enough Plutonium 238 to cause lung cancer in every man, woman and child on Earth, if each of them merely inhaled an equal portion of the whole.  Plutonium also causes leukemia, birth defects, and many other ailments.  1.1 ounces (365 Curies or 1.35 X 10^13 Bq) is a huge amount of this virulent poison, way too much to be rocketing into space, past the gauntlet of space debris, on board rickety rockets with unreasonable high failure rates.

Floridians are particularly at risk, because the vaporized plutonium could be concentrated in their state if an explosion occurred during the first minute after launch -- the most dangerous phase of the mission.

NASA has delayed the mission several times -- at least once because winds would have blown launch accident debris inland.  But winds are always somewhat unpredictable, rocket paths during accidents are likewise unpredictable, and the tiny particles of plutonium that would be produced in an accident can also enter the food chain via rainfall, or by eating fish which are caught in open waters where the plutonium came down.  These tiny, invisible plutonium particles can take days, weeks, and even months and years to filter down out of the sky, and they can take even longer to settle to the bottom of the oceans, lakes and rivers.

There is no way to hide from a NASA accident, and NASA's effort to protect the local populace is half-hearted at best, and at worst, offers a false sense of security.  It is, either way, a poor substitute for better planning -- namely, using alternative heat sources (magnifying lenses would have worked, or small solar panels, for instance) -- yes, that's all the plutonium is being used for on these missions -- a small amount of heat for the scientific equipment -- a problem solvable by other technological means!

The real reason is undoubtedly just to keep launching plutonium -- they do it for peaceful "civilian" missions, thus setting up the infrastructure to do it for military missions.

NASA has been trying to launch the Opportunity mission for more about a week, but has been unable to launch so far, in part because foam insulation was found loose on the rocket, then it was re-glued, then it came away again.  So now they have to re-glue it again -- but only 10% to 20% -- the rest they'll just trust their luck on!

There are plenty of other reasons to fear the reliability record of the Delta-2 rocket besides the problems they are having with the insulation (perhaps not coincidentally, insulation is now the prime suspect in the Columbia accident).  This is a dangerous and arrogant thing for NASA to be doing.

Oppose this and all nuclear space missions! 

The next launch window for "Opportunity for Disaster" is July 2nd, 2003, so please send your comments IMMEDIATELY to:

"NASA comments" <>

Thank you in advance for helping to stop NASA's nuclear madness!


Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen
Carlsbad, CA

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