STOP CASSINI Newsletter #49 -- September 29th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #49 - September 29th


Articles about NASA's unscientific attitude, a look at the past, a look at the future.

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

***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #49, September 29th, 1997 *****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #49 September 29th, 1997 ******

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

*** A letter from the First Lady

Today I received a letter from THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON. My name and address were hand-written upon the envelope.

Inside was a card with a gorgeous picture of THE WHITE HOUSE in blue ink at the top and the signature of Hillary Rodham Clinton, also in blue, at the bottom. It was signed "Sincerely" and began "Dear Friend." So, to all: Hillary Rodham Clinton is my friend!!!

The letter read as follows, and I'm sure as a friend she will not mind my publishing it:

"Thank you for writing to share your thoughts with me. I appreciate your interest. It is important that each of us be concerned and informed about the many issues facing our world. Thank you for taking the time to write."

I hope the First Lady took the time to read, because there may be a quiz at midnight for all of us, and whosoever says "I did not know" will stand accused above all the rest. And, what is the use of an informed public if they cannot in turn inform their leaders?

In today's world, not to decide is to commit suicide. By being lied to by NASA, we the public have purchased an awesome potential killing machine. We need protection from this machine, and from those who lied to convince us to buy it. That's why EPA exists, who judged NASA's EIS "insufficient". That's why we have the FOIA, which Karl Grossman had to use to his utmost ability, which is more than my ability I can assure you, to get the Rockey report (the very same Rockey report written about below) which NASA misused so foolishly and so blatantly in the 1995 EIS. That's why we have the Endangered Species Act, and the Superfund Authorization and Recovery Act, and countless other laws to protect the unprotected, such as children and other living things.

Our Government exists because we the people want it to, and we the people want it to exist for our mutual protection and growth. But when our Government will not protect us, what can we do? The more powerful our Government is, and ours is surely a great and powerful one, the more it must listen to it's citizens and respond to their will and their communal thoughts. For the more powerful it is, the greater is the danger that it will lose touch with its people. Has that happened here, over Cassini? I think so. The people do not want this monstrosity now that they know about it. I believe the independent citizens (like myself) who have researched what NASA is doing with Cassini the most, are the ones who do not want it the most (like myself). The more one knows, the less one wants it. Only by NASA hiding the facts from the public has the public allowed this folly to proceed.

NASA needs to be called to testify before Congressional Hearings, giving sworn testimony, and explain what their agenda is for using RTGs, and why they are unable to wait for a solar option, and why they are suddenly so sure they need to launch as soon as possible, even though all the launch window data they printed up until they realized they have a real fight on their hands some time over the summer, says they would get a satisfactory science return through 1999. So surely we can delay long enough to hold hearings, can we not? There is still time! Even if the hearings started October 6th, or October 13th, or any day before launch, there is STILL TIME! The first launch date is not a "must launch date" at all, it is a first launch opportunity, that's all! So launch after -- and if -- honest hearings produce an honest groundswell of public support! But if NASA launches now, it will be in the face of widespread worldwide open pubic displeasure.


I call for Congressional Hearings, and so should NASA, and so should everyone on both sides of the debate.

*** NASA'S ARTICLES OF FAITH by Perry Keidel, Veterans for Peace

From: perry keidel
Subject: final copy: NASA'S ARTICLES OF FAITH
Date: Mon, 29 Sep 1997 11:21:16 +0000



A mournful chorus from ultra-right religious conservatives across the country has bemoaned for years how far our country has slid into "secular humanism." However the level of uncritical, knee-jerk NASA adulation, supported by over a half a century of massive doses of pro-space news and entertainment suggest ours is one of the most religious societies in the world. The religion is called "Unquestioning Faith in American Superiority and Technology." It is the dominance of this religion in the minds of Americans across this country that has led us to the point that we are now about to embark upon an ambitious, high-stakes program of plutonium launching without public knowledge, public debate or public accountability.

Whether one's religion is faith in an obscure theology, or an unwavering faith in American space science and technology, skeptics most frequently criticize religious people of historical suspension. Historical suspension is an avoidance mechanism for many believers, believers who feel they can not personally afford to give up their belief system: studiously ignore key historical and material facts that can threaten the belief system. Many believers are so unreservedly committed to their belief system they are incapable of honest self-doubt, incapable of entertaining for a moment the possibility that their behaviors might be flawed.

In 1915 Silvanus P. Thompson, a Quaker, observed that the very precision of the intellectual process of scientific endeavor, and their inevitable monument of garnered results, may tend to cramp or warp the perception of those so engaged to other kinds of truth. Perceptual balance may be lost after so long and relentless a commitment to the narrow, reductive processes of the laboratory. In other words, very educated people like NASA scientists can be so consumed in their "heavenly" pursuits they may become out of touch with, indeed calloused to, the rest of us and our more earthly concerns.

Blind faith in scientific enterprise parallels in many ways unwavering faith in religious authority. I am as skeptical of the high priests of science, NASA scientists, as I am of the clerical hierarchy because there are too many similarities in the interdependent-dependant relationship between the leaders and followers.

The zeal and single-minded adulation of lay and professional devotees to NASA's unbridled, highly imaginative and capital intensive space ambitions puts to shame the intensity of most religious adherents today. And like past confrontations between skeptics and the Church, today's high priests of American technology, NASA scientists and bureaucrats are also accused of elitism and dishonesty. To prove their point, NASA skeptics periodically put forward lists of "NASA lies," Articles of Faith NASA depends upon for you to embrace without question.

A very few of these NASA Articles of Faith are:

While parents hold bake sales to support their children's educations, U.S. taxpayers spend billions yearly in support of this State Religion, from its promotion to its hubric plutonium-launching gamble. Forgetting the archetypal lessons of Faust, Prometheus, and The Tower of Babel, we have a monster in this plutonium launching foolishness that cannot imagine its own fall. Great and long-lasting will be the devastating consequences of that fall. Science means most not to the person who thinks it means everything, but to those most keenly aware of the role of science in serving human need and in revealing the beauty, interrelatedness and fragility of life.

Perry Keidel
Veterans For Peace
Gainesville (FL) Chapter

*** What's changed since Dr. Carl Sagan approved of Galileo in 1989?

JPL has republished a statement written in 1989 by the late Dr. Carl Sagan regarding the 1989 Galileo launch which had about 50 pounds of plutonium dioxide on board, as compared to Cassini's 72.3 pounds. Here is the URL of that statement:

Here is a list of things that are different now, which might have swayed Dr. Sagan against Cassini were he alive today, especially considering that he stated in his article that he "...felt torn on the Galileo RTG issue for years. I still do...." and "I find the Galileo decision ... agonizing."

I am sorry that NASA/JPL trotted out this 8 year old statement because Dr. Sagan is no longer here to view the current evidence, but I feel compelled, under the circumstances, to make these comments. I believe Dr. Sagan would have found the following points thought provoking, at least.

After the launch of the Galileo spacecraft, Karl Grossman was FINALLY able to obtain the 1981 D. E. Rockey et al JPL/NASA report on the potential for using a Concentrated Solar Array instead of the nuclear powerpacks for Galileo. The report unequivocally shows that solar would have worked for that mission. Thus, the plutonium Dr. Sagan agonized about WAS NOT EVEN NECESSARY.

Here is the URL where the Rockey report is available to the public:

NASA's stated odds on a Cassini flyby accident are one in one million, twice as bad as the one in two million NASA cited for the Galileo launch.

72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide will be used on Cassini, not 50 pounds as was on Galileo. Nearly 50% more.

The flyby will be at 42,300 miles per hour, not the 30,000 that Galileo flew at. Yet the technology, which Dr. Sagan makes clear was untested then, is still untested at ANY of these speeds and according to NASA there has been little change in the RTG and component design from Galileo to Cassini. The heat due to friction increases with the CUBE OF THE VELOCITY. Total incineration of the plutonium in a flyby reentry accident is not merely possible; it is absolutely untested in real-world situations.

Dr. Sagan based his decision on NASA/JPL's estimate of 1000 potential deaths from an accident. Respected scientists including Dr. John Gofman, Dr. Michio Kaku, Dr. Horst Poehler and many others have offered estimates that are at least 200 times greater for Cassini. NASA reduced the potential deaths a Cassini accident could cause from 2300 in the June 1995 EIS to an absolutely absurd 120 in the June 1997 EIS.

Thruster problems on NASA's recent Lewis satellite caused a complete mission failure. (September, 1997)

Space probe Clementine missed it's flyby of asteroid Geographos due to a thruster problem. (May, 1994)

Delta II rocket exploded on lift off in a spectacular and unplanned fireball. (January, 1997)

Ex-NASA scientists and other NASA workers have come forward expressing disgust and extreme concern over NASA's nuclear policies.

Last fall the Russian Mars '96 probe with a half pound of plutonium failed to escape Earth's gravitational pull and fell to Earth somewhere over Chile, Bolivia, and/or the Pacific Ocean. The world discovered that not only is NASA unable to predict where a rocket failure might land, but also they have little interest in gaining experience with attempting to clean up a nuclear accident.

Interagency reports of Earth Orbiting Space Debris are far worse than the predictions made in 1989 indicated.

Report year: 1989 ~~~ 1995
10 cm or greater: 7000 ~~~ 8000
1 to 10 cm: 17,500 ~~~ 110,000
.01-1 cm: 3,524,500 ~~~ 35,117,000
Total kg: 3,000,000 ~~~ 2,000,000

(It appears that NASA used the 1989 report when determining space debris dangers for Cassini, NOT the 1995 report!)

NASA has made many false and misleading statements regarding Cassini's nuclear payload, and it is clear that honesty is not a current NASA policy. This is reason alone to cancel ALL NASA projects until and unless honesty can be brought back as a STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.

*** Future Missions and what they could have done if they had waited...

Lately NASA has been drawing a fine line between what is planned and what is "funded" as if ANY planning can go on without ANY funding.

An article in Florida Today clears up the issue somewhat, and also indicates that if NASA were to redesign the Cassini mission today and still use plutonium, they could actually use 1/5th as much and get the same power output. Add to that the fact that the computer and other equipment on board the probe could probably also be redesigned now, to use less energy, and it becomes clear that if NASA had been willing to wait just 7 years (since the start of the Cassini project) they could have launched it with perhaps 1/10th the amount of plutonium they actually plan to use, perhaps even less. Surely, I and others would still be against it, but at least then a full vaporization of the load would release only 1/10th as much plutonium. Surely, NASA could have seen this advance coming and meanwhile, could have flown other missions, if they cared about the dangers of vaporized plutonium. But they are not now, have not in the past, and despite assurances, do not appear to plan in the future to be concerned about human health from their failed Pu experiments. And since you won't be able to prove what gives you a cancer or leukemia, NASA is not worried, because THEY WON'T HAVE TO PAY. You will.

The clip shown below is from:


For September 14, 1997

Power to discover: Treasure hunts fueled by plutonium

By Todd Halvorson


A new generation


The three plutonium generators on Cassini will be the last of their kind to fly.

NASA is developing new generators that will convert plutonium to electricity five times more efficiently than the devices now in use, allowing NASA to reduce the amount of radioactive material needed.

Those generators would be used for yet-to-be-funded missions that include trips to the Jovian moon Europa and to Pluto, the only planet that hasn't been visited by a NASA spacecraft.


*** Contact USA TODAY Weekend Edition

As the launch draws near, newspapers around the country need to be told again and again that we the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, wish to see proper and balanced coverage of the Cassini debate BEFORE the launch! Here is the number for the USA TODAY Weekend Edition comment line: (800) 487-2956.

*** Introduction to Pamela Blockey-O'Brien

Pamela Blockey-O'Brien is an environmentalist and human rights activist. She has been known worldwide since the early 60's for her courageous work in South Africa and elsewhere around the world on human rights, hunger, the needs of children, also against nuclear weapons and nuclear waste, as well as other global issues including chemical and biological weapons, disarmament and toxic waste health effects. She is a member of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest interreligious pacifist organization in the world. (IFR has had no less than SEVEN Nobel peace prize winners in its ranks since its inception, Adolfo Perez Esquivel being the most recent, in the early 80's.)

Here is the web site of Pamela Blockey-O'Brien. Please note that the email address for Pamela is not currently functioning, but people can contact her through this newsletter.


What governments and industry don't want the public to know.

By Pamela Blockey-O'Brien (Member I.F.O.R.)

Contrary to popular belief, the entire nuclear fuel cycle -- from mining of uranium to transportation of nuclear materials, to manufacture of nuclear weapons/projectiles/so-called "depleted uranium" armor piercing munitions, to nuclear power plant and nuclear research reactors--emits DEADLY RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINANTS TO AIR, SOIL, VEGETATION AND WATER.


Please visit this astonishing woman's web site!

*** Need speakers for your next rally? Here's a good source:

Speak Out is the country's only national not-for-profit artists and speakers agency. Their roster includes some 200 women and men who represent the breadth of movements for social justice. For a full listing, contact them:

Speak Out
PO Box 99096
Emeryville, Ca 94662
Phone: (510) 601-0182
Fax: (510) 601-0182


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 September 30th, 1997.
Last modified October 2nd, 1997.
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