STOP CASSINI Newsletter #13 -- May 20th, 1997

The issue of the Plutonium RTGs starts to boil...

By Russell D. Hoffman

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index


This issue features a letter concerning Cassini's plutonium Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs), sent to Beverly Cook of the Department of Energy, and other STOP CASSINI web site news.

Thanks, Russell Hoffman, Webmaster, STOP CASSINI

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #13 ****

A correspondence with Mike Pelletier
A letter to Beverly Cook of the DOE
Apollo 13

****** VOLUME #13 May 20th, 1997 ******

By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman

A correspondence with a pro-nuclear person...

Mr. Mike Pelletier has challenged many of my viewpoints and we have exchanged several sets of email in the past two weeks. Anyone debating the nuclear issues -- on either side -- may find this discussion interesting. He has brought up many of the "classic" pro-nuke arguments and, having shot them all down once (I thought), he has returned with additional answers... Here is the URL of the first of three (currently) web pages showing all the emails:

As it stands right now, I have yet to answer completely his latest email, but in the meantime, one of the areas of discussion with Mr. Pelletier centers on the question of the Cassini Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) and whether they are in fact designed to incinerate if an Earth fly-by re-entry occurs.

Although Mr. Pelletier and I seem to agree on very little, (except perhaps that's it's fun to debate each other) one thing we do agree on at the moment is that NASA/JPL/DOE etc. have not provided nearly enough information. So we, Mr. Pelletier and I, are asking DOE for the information. Hence, the next item:

A letter to Beverly Cook of the DOE

To: Beverly Cook
CC: Mike Pelletier, other interested parties
From: Russell D. Hoffman
Re: RTGs for the Cassini mission -- are they designed to incinerate?
Via: Email. Please acknowledge receipt of this document.

Date: May 20th, 1997

Dear Ms Cook:

I understand that Mr. Mike Pelletier has previously contacted you in this matter.

I have been having a "heated" (pardon the pun) discussion with Mr. Pelletier about the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) for the Cassini mission. My claim as you may know is that they have been specifically designed to incinerate if an Earth flyby re-entry occurs. Mr. Pelletier does not agree with me and has been attempting to secure technical information by which he can prove his points. Both of us are merely concerned citizens.

Mr. Pelletier wrote the following to me yesterday:

"I agree with the dearth of technical information that's been provided about the specific details of the construction of the RTG. I too would like some engineering and materials information, and the web page just doesn't cut it."

I hope that you will be able to forward to both Mr. Pelletier and to myself the appropriate documents and/or other material so that one or the other of us might be able to prove through technical research, that our position is correct. He certainly appears to be both willing and able to challenge me on this issue, if only he had the technical data. I too, might be able to resolve it with a little help from my own technical resources if I had the proper information. But at the moment, we simply do not have nearly enough data.

Here is the URL of an article where I discuss many of the issues which make me take my position on the matter:

Here is the URL of the first of three web pages of email between Mr. Pelletier and myself. All the correspondence between Mr. Pelletier and myself so far has been published online (this letter will be added shortly):

As you will see if you read our correspondence, a large part of our discussion has centered on the actual design of the RTGs.

I hope you will give this matter the attention I feel it deserves in light of the serious effect an incineration of the RTGs could have if an accidental flyby re-entry occurs.

Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. I know the hour is late for the open period of comment submission for the Cassini Draft EIS (May 27th) but it would certainly be good if we could put this matter to rest before then.


Russell D. Hoffman

ISSUE #13? Let's talk about Apollo 13 then...

When the Apollo 13 mission failed, a nuclear generator (RTG) was on board the lunar lander. It contained 8.3 pounds of plutonium. NASA now uses this failed mission to somehow justify that the RTG's are safe, claiming that they successfully returned the nuclear payload to earth inside the lunar lander which "was jettisoned and landed safely, as it was designed to do, in the South Pacific during the reentry of the astronauts' capsule [to earth]" according to Mary Beth Murrill of NASA.

What actually happened to the RTG on board the lander has never been proven, yet NASA continues to use Apollo 13 to somehow "prove" that RTGs can be handled safely.

Here is the URL of a web page where the quote from Mary Beth Murrill is published:

And here is the URL of a web page written by Karl Grossman that more thoroughly discusses the Apollo 13 events and the exclusion of the nuclear issue from the movie of the same name:

What next?

We continue to add new links and get new contacts from people interested in stopping Cassini and other nuclear payloads. Please visit our "friends":

Probably Friday (5/23/97) we will send via overnight express mail, our "final" submission to the NASA DSEIS as discussed in newsletter #12. Hopefully by then the RTG mystery will be solved. Somehow, I doubt it though...

Thanks for all the compliments on issue #12!!!

Thanks for reading,

Sincerely Russell D. Hoffman STOP CASSINI webmaster.

URL of the STOP CASSINI table of contents page:


Thanks again for reading,

Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


Previous issue (#12)
Next issue (#14)

********* SUBSCRIPTION INFO *********
To subscribe to this newsletter just email me at
with the words:

Please include something else:
It can be an indication of where
you found our newsletter, or what you
read that made you want to subscribe, but
you do NOT need to include your name.

To unsubscribe email me and say

Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Available at the source by blind carbon copy
subscription ONLY--free. Subscription list never
sold or bartered or divulged (except if by
government order, and then only after
exhausting all legal arguments against such
disclosure). Subscribing in no way
constitutes endorsement of our positions and
may indicate opposition!
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman.
May be freely distributed but please include all
headers, footers, and contents or request
permission to excerpt. Thank you.


This article has been presented on the World Wide Web by:

The Animated Software Company
Mail to:
First placed online May 21st, 1997.
Last modified August 17th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman