STOP CASSINI Newsletter #30 -- August 20th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #31 - August 20th, 1997


This issue gives times and dates for the launch windows, tells you where on the web you can read the famous 1981 Rockey report on solar alternatives for deep-space missions, and reports on a protest near Philadelphia. There also is a comment about all the name-calling over the Cassini issue.

Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER

**** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #30 August 20th, 1997 ****
Today's subjects:

***** VOLUME #30 August 20th, 1997 *****

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

*** Launch windows timetable:

Launch windows are each 140 minutes in duration and occur daily from 10/6/97 through 11/15/97 inclusive, then again from 11/27/97 through 1/09/98 inclusive. The launch window gets several minutes earlier each day. The October 6th window starts at 4:38:26 am local time. October 7th it starts at 4:32:10 am, October 8th at 4:25:56 am, etc. through 11/15/97. (This data is from book 4 of the Cassini GPHS-RTG FSAR CDRL C.3 from Lockheed Martin in support of NASA (preliminary release, November, 1996), page v.I 5-5.) For the exact launch windows, we have scanned that page at this web site:

NASA has decided that its opinion of the risk of a flyby reentry must be below one in one million. Their actual number for the primary launch opportunity flyby is about 1 in 1.2 million right now, at a height above Earth (if all goes well) of about 800 km.

The second launch window starts November 27th at 11:40:53 local time and runs through January 9th, 1998. It would utilize TWO earth flybys, one in November 1999 and one in July 2002. For the secondary launch opportunity one might assume the risk would be about twice that, or 1 in 600,000... In fact, though, the secondary launch opportunity flybys will be at "altitudes of approximately 2500 km and 1200 km for the first and second swingbys, respectively, with a mean probability of a short term Earth impact equal to 4.8 X 10^-7 [about 1 in two million] and a mean probability of a long term Earth impact equal to 3.5 X 10^-7. [about one in three million]" (See page 14 of the Final Safety Analysis Report (FSAR) CDRL C.3 Updated Executive Summary -- Lockheed Martin, May 1997 Preliminary Release in Support of the Cassini Mission, Set 4 of 4.)

Certainly if you trust NASA numbers (but who does?) we should at least postpone the mission until the secondary launch opportunity, since the risk then is so much lower. But they will do TWO flybys of Earth if they use the secondary launch opportunity. Pick your poison.

*** The famous 1981 Rockey et al solar report,
*** scanned and posted for viewing:

Karl Grossman worked for YEARS to get this document, whose official title is "THE SYSTEMS IMPACT OF A CONCENTRATED SOLAR ARRAY ON A JUPITER ORBITER". Only Karl's extreme tenacity, his knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act, and his (award-winning) skill as an investigative journalist finally wrestled the document from NASA/JPL. You can read all about his struggle to obtain this document in his new book THE WRONG STUFF, which is published by Common Courage Press who can be contacted for orders. Phone (800) 497-3207 or (207) 525-0900. Cost: $22.95, Cloth bound, ISBN 1-56751-125-2, 225 pages.

Although the Rockey report has been dismissed recently by some pro-nuclear Cassini people because it is from 1981, they do this despite NASA itself having lent significant substance to the report's timeliness by using it themselves in the June 1995 EIS for the Cassini mission. If the report is not timely now at 16 years after it was written, surely it was not much more timely in 1995 at 14 years, right? Yet NASA used it.

Yet NASA used it. But here's the thing: NASA misquoted it!

The Rockey report is scanned as six GIF images. Here is the URL of the index to the 1981 Rockey NASA/JPL report:

In our rebuttal to NASA's rebuttal of our commentary on the June 1995 EIS for the Cassini Mission we discuss NASA's misuse of this report (See section 2-12(e). Here is the URL of the discussion:

I find it disturbing that the pro-nuclear Cassini people would attempt to dismiss this report now because it is old, even though NASA itself used it in 1995 (although, incorrectly). But worse, is hearing them dismiss the shame NASA should feel over what Karl had to go through to get the report in the first place, or dismissing as irrelevant the awesome amount of work Karl had to go through.

Science reports which NASA uses for public documents such as the June 1995 EIS on the Cassini mission should always be made available to the public. How can you trust a public document which is based on reports which you cannot see unless you have both the willpower and the knowledge of a Karl Grossman to obtain those reports? I would not have succeeded, and nor would most people. Yet the EIS is a public document. It must be based on publicly available reports.

And of course, when you base a report on another report, and use that other report to support a position, that other report should in fact support that position and not, as in the case of the 1981 Rockey report, actually support the opposite argument!

*** More of NASA's June 1995 EIS on the Cassini
*** Mission has been posted for viewing:

At the suggestion of Jane Prettyman, Editor, The Real News Page:

I have scanned in several more pages from NASA's June 1995 EIS on the Cassini Mission. Ms Prettyman has searched for these documents on the Internet (as have I) but apparently NASA has not posted them, so we're doing our best.

In the last few days I scanned in pages from NASA's June 1995 EIS concerning current sources of plutonium pollution in the environment, including weapons testing. (See pages 3-40 and 3-44.) Also, pages relating to NASA's descriptions of "Non-Nuclear Power Sources" for Cassini, including references to the Rockey report. (See pages 2-53 to 2-58.)

The index to all the pages of the June 1995 EIS which have been scanned in so far (about 25) is at this URL:

*** Protesting on the steps of the Post Office:

My wonderful stepmother, Alice Hoffman, is known in the American labor movement as an oral history researcher. Recently she took part in a protest against Cassini on the steps of her local Post Office in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and it's a good thing she studied the history of protest movements for the past 20 years, (much of labor history is protests, of course!) or she and everyone else there would have been arrested for a legal, legitimate demonstration!

Three police cars came after the small group in the shady college suburb of Philadelphia, but my stepmother convinced Lower Merion County's Finest that the protestors had a right to be there. She suggested to them that they go in and ask the postmaster about citizen's rights. Apparently suspicious that this smiling and friendly old gal might actually know what she is talking about, they went inside and talked to the postmaster, and when they came out and left the area, they would not look at my stepmother.

Pictures of the "event" will be posted soon at the web site. There was even a bit of press coverage in the local papers!

*** A comment about all the name-calling:

As any long-time reader of this newsletter knows, I have been called quite a few names by the pro-nuclear Cassini people. Nevertheless I am convinced that the vast majority are genuine good-hearted people. They are concerned about safety and concerned about science. They are not all kooks, wackos, space-exploration gung-ho fools, or power-hungry testosterone-poisoned adolescent warboys.

If they are right -- or even if not as long as they are genuine -- I want to hear what they have to say. Virtually any pro-nuclear Cassini person can have his unique say at my web site. And so can any anti-nuclear Cassini person. I try to let both sides speak. Why? Because what I really want, is to find out that I am wrong! I want to be convinced that Cassini is safe. Then, I won't have to worry anymore, or be angry, or impatient, or intolerant, or hysterical, or self-serving, won't listen, angry/hurt/defensive, confrontational, secretive, shrill and neurotic, defensive, judgemental, egotistical, or ranting. And that's just what the anti-nuclear Cassini people have called me! Thankfully, some (and sometimes the same ones) also call me smart, a genius, a great writer, a great American, patriotic, very patient, tolerant, responsible, the "prime mover", "doing a great service with 'spreading the word'", and my personal favorite: "Russell Hoffman was the person who was able to explain Cassini to me. I find his newsletters to be terrific." -- You get the idea. It's not all bad. It's just always a roller-coaster.

So far, the pro-nuclear people have not convinced me that we even possess as a civilization the proper knowledge that would be needed to know that Cassini is safe. They have convinced me that some of my earlier statements are wrong and I am in the constant process of correcting as many of the erroneous ones as I can at the web site and in all my newer statements. But as I continue to learn more, I hear more reasons NOT to fly than I hear of reasons why it is safe to fly.

By and large, I have found that most of the pro-nuclear Cassini people are as uninformed about either Cassini or the hazards of nuclear waste as are most of the anti-nuclear Cassini people. We all need an education. Maybe I could be a better person with fewer of the faults I've been told lately that I have, but that won't change the facts of the case. And one fact is overwhelming: People do not know what NASA is playing with. In fact, I am also convinced that NASA does not even know what they are playing with.

Lastly, I am convinced that this debate is rightfully international. Not just because Cassini can come down anywhere, but because Russia in particular needs to be called to task for it's utterly crazy space nuclear and space debris policies. (As well as their terrestrial nuclear policies.)

The problem of Cassini will resolve itself one way or the other, possibly as soon as October 6th, 1997 at 4:38:26 am. But the problems of Earth Orbital Space Debris, which right now is still being dismissed as minor by anyone who has a monetary stake in space, and the problems of nuclear waste, both in space and on Earth, will not go away after Cassini launches or is put in the Smithsonian Museum (minus the plutonium, which will somehow be disposed of properly, I presume...).

I hope NASA will follow the recommendations of the many scientists who, like this and other concerned citizens, have come out against this foolhardy project.

Russell Hoffman


Please feel free to post these newsletters anywhere you feel it's appropriate! THANKS!!!

Welcome new subscribers!

Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.


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First placed online August 24th, 1997.
Last modified August 25th, 1997.
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Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman