STOP CASSINI Newsletter #62 -- November 13th, 1997

Copyright (c) 1997

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #62 - November 13th


We continue to receive daily email about Cassini (from both sides, as usual) and have reprinted some of it here. Also a DUMP DAN GOLDIN suggestion, and some old news. For those wondering why there have not been more issues of this newsletter (the last one was 10 days ago) it is not because there are no ongoing anti-Cassini activities to try to stop the flyby. Rather, I have, as promised, been involving myself with other projects that were delayed during the pro-launch phase of the Cassini battle, and have not had time to spare. For example I spent the last three days installing a new piece of computer hardware, and I am still fighting the domino effect that each upgrade seems to bring, where if you install any new item, the entire computer system falls apart and you have to remove everything and build it up from scratch again, including, of course, reinstalling Windoze about 6 times (so far...). This Saturday, I'll be making a presentation about educational computer software and the Internet to a computer user group in Orange County, CA. So you see, I have been busy! Over the next few issues I will be publishing material written by Dr. Ross McCluney, Kai Petzke, Jonathan Haber and many others.

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

***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #62, November 13th, 1997 *****
Today's subjects:

****** VOLUME #62 November 13th, 1997 ******

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

*** Dump Dan Goldin:


Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 14:46:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Goldin (The "NASA MAN")


I don't mean to be oppressive, but I just reviewed some statements of Dan Goldin in his budget press conference of February 6, 1997...

When discussing his "Origins Program" he declares "Origins will look at many facets of the Universe, it's creation, the formation of chemical elements and the galaxies, stars, and planets. We will unravel the mystery of what it took to get from the creation of the Universe to life on Earth."

Hmmmmm ---- Even GOD Almighty didn't dare to make that promise!!!


Goldin, to me, personifies the con-man "Professor" Harold Hill (a traveling musical instrument salesman in the wonderful Meredith Wilson broadway musical "Music Man"). Similarly, the tactics used by Dan Goldin reflect his disdain for the intelligence of the American public...

My comments about NASA have been made to the Whitehouse and to Congressional representatives long before the Cassini caper. Unfortunately, their response, along with public relations handouts from NASA lackeys, do not reply to my concerns.

The "system" merely passes the buck!

Dan Goldin, the NASA Administrator, to me has become a master showman, The "NASA MAN", who counts upon the famous dictum of P.T. Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute!"




*** MY RESPONSE: ***


I too have listened to this man babble on T.V. and wondered just where he came from and what he is up to. He was appointed to head NASA in 1992 from outside the organization. Here is a NASA puff piece on Dan Goldin:

In the biography/puff piece it states:

"Before coming to NASA, Goldin was Vice President and General Manager of the TRW Space & Technology Group in Redondo Beach, California. During a 25-year career at TRW, he successfully managed the development and production of advanced spacecraft, technologies and space science instruments."

TRW is, of course, a high tech weapons contractor including a major Star Wars defense contractor. In short, his whole life has been space weaponry, and now he heads the civilian space agency. I am comforted not in the least by this fraud, this fool, this babbling nincompoop who is currently at the helm of what should be America's greatest and most important and well funded environmental and technological organization. The NASA I envision is a peaceful NASA, which is involved with helping to study Earth and the needs of Earth's citizens, as well as the solar system and the "meaning of life". It is an agency which endeavors to establish civilizations off this planet, but in a professional and reasonable manner without resorting to lies and guesswork and extreme risks to Earth's environment, Near Earth Orbit, or to other planets in the solar system.

I envision a NASA we can all be proud of. Not this NASA. Not any NASA headed by the Goldin Fool.

Here is a typical statement from Dan Goldin, this one regarding photographic images take by Galileo:

"We won't wait for all the answers. We'll release the data as soon as it's available, and share the excitement of discovery not only with scientists, but with the American public, with educators, and especially with children. This is their space program, the American space program, and they should share in the awe and wonder of exploration."

Full text from which the above is excerpted:

If only he his staff would be so open about the hazards of 72.3 pounds of vaporized plutonium dioxide (mostly Pu 238, but also Pu 239, Pu 240, Pu 241, etc.)! If only his staff would not resort to lying about the potential for alternatives to RTG technology such as their misuse of the 1981 "Rockey" report in the June 1995 Cassini EIS (the report was misrepresented by the Cassini RTG professional apologists under Dan Goldin's leadership).

*** From the mailbag: Now that Cassini has launched, what's next?

At 12:48 PM 11/4/97 "RK" wrote:

I am curious whether, now that the Cassini spacecraft has been launched, there is any effort to lobby NASA and Congress to keep this type of power plant from consideration on future long range probes. Also, are there any probes presently under construction which utilize this type of power supply.

Best to keep them from being built in the first place is my point.

R. K.


Thanks for your letter. There are reports of up to, I think, 12 future deep space projects currently being designed around nuclear power sources. Of these 12, supposedly none are funded. But how anything can exist in any stage without any funding is beyond me, so I don't know what's really planned and I'm worried.

You are so very right, that keeping them from being built in the first place is the most important thing to do, and therefore, the focus of the STOP CASSINI movement should be on these 12, more even than worrying about the flyby.

NASA has recently reported that new RTGs will get 5 times more power output for the same mass of plutonium dioxide. This means that a Cassini type mission, if designed today with plutonium, would need only 1/5th as much plutonium as the one that just flew! How greedy can these scientists be, that they would be launching this stuff off to space without a care in the world, as if there were an endless quantity of the stuff to use (which there actually sort of is, millions of pounds of it) and as if every nation will also be allowed to send up vast quantities of it. I think NASA has shot off enough plutonium into space. If they had made better use of it, they could have had five times more space flights with the same amount they have already used. Enough is enough!

This month, Brazil was going to become the next space nation. Unfortunately for them, their first attempt was a dismal failure (they had to blow up the rocket 65 seconds into the flight because only 4 of the five rockets fired properly, causing navigational instability) but they'll keep trying. What precedent have we set, that we can now use to stop Brazil from sending up their own plutonium junk? Brazil, who are now 0 for 1 in launch successes versus attempts. I for one am ashamed of my country for what we have done.

Thanks again for writing.

[Russell Hoffman]

*** From the mailbag: What does history tell us?

At 10:05 AM 11/4/97 EST "someone" wrote:

(in regard to the information posted at
I am wondering if you know of any other space probes such as Pioneer and Voyager that were also nuclear powered? Those probes were launched long before anybody even considered the dangers of exposure to radiation.

I am writing a research paper on nuclear powered space craft. I myself am for the Cassini Space Craft and I think that there is a definite need to explore our own solar system. Which in turn could help us understand the origins of life and how to preserve it here on our home planet of Earth. However, I would like to understand the full picture, the pros and cons, if you will, of this subject. If you could offer any assistance, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

(From someone at--)

(Mechanical engineering Tech.)
(At a New England State Technical College)


Thanks for your email.

NASA published a list of space probes that carried nuclear payloads in their June 1995 EIS, the list is on page 2-13 (table 2-2). It is available at our web site. Here's the URL of the list of pages we have scanned in:

It is not correct to say that the earlier probes were launched "long before anybody even considered the dangers of exposure to radiation." In 1964 Karl Z. Morgan, known as the father of Health Physics, expressed serious concern about NASA's use of the approximately 2.1 pounds of plutonium on board TRANSIT 5BN navigational satellites. In sworn testimony, he has stated that NASA told him the chance of a reentry of these payloads was one in ten million, but in 1964 one of them did accidentally reentry the atmosphere and the payload was incinerated (as it was designed to do back then). The uproar apparently caused NASA to redesign the containment system to the imperfect and largely untested (for flyby reentry conditions, anyway) system used today. NASA put down the uproar somehow, probably with tactics similar to the ones they used against their Cassini foe this year.

I too expect and approve of the exploration of the solar system, but in a reasonably safe way. Newer and better technologies are so clearly coming, including better solar systems, hybrid systems using fuel cells for the portion of the flight that occurs too far from the sun, and also, even more efficient RTG systems are now available. Not to mention more efficient experimental equipment that draws less power.

Combined, these make the use of 72.3 pounds of plutonium (mostly 238) dioxide for one mission -- Cassini -- seem incredibly stupid. At the very least, NASA could have flown AT LEAST FIVE ALTERNATE MISSIONS with that amount of plutonium if the RTGs were of a modern design.

As to your comment about finding "the origins of life and how to preserve it here on our home planet of Earth" this is really a weak argument for exploring the solar system at this point in society's scientific history of discovery. We know so very, very little about this planet, it is absurd to think that the money spent on solar exploration will get us closer to those specific goals over the same money being spent here on Earth to investigate, for example, the Tonga Trench, which NASA considers to be a dumping ground for nuclear payloads gone haywire (such as Apollo 13's lunar module).

In fact, the Tonga Trench seems like a much more logical place to look for answers to questions about the origin of life. Which is not to say the solar system should not be explored and even inhabited as soon as practical, but right now, it is NOT practical with current technology.

Thank you again, for your email. I hope you have found this response thought provoking at least.

Russell Hoffman

*** From the mailbag: School research project:

At 03:25 AM 9/1/97 "somebody" wrote:

I want to subscribe to your newsletter for information needed for a
research project at my school.


Thank you for subscribing to the (free, electronic) STOP CASSINI newsletter. The next issue will be #62. Thank you also for telling me why you have chosen to subscribe as well. I would be particularly gratified if you write back later and tell me what grade you get on the project. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask them.

Thank you again,
Russell Hoffman

*** From the mailbag: Doesn't like my logic:

(NOTE: The following letter contains the unedited spelling and grammatical efforts of the author. --rdh)

At 03:29 PM 11/5/97 "AJ" wrote:

i have seen your web page and i find your reasoning
irrational and paranoid. using radioactive materials
as power generators onboard satelites is one of the
very fiew usefull ways to use noclear power
discovered by man kind. fearing this is like fearing
dark. if you are going to write about something
worth fearing, write about forbiding maned land
vehicles, the number of americans that have died in
car crashes is greater than the total number of
americans that have died in all american wars.

P.S. Do some thing about your web page - it is
pathetic for a programer that you clame to be


Thank you for your comments, shown above.

Man's greatest use of fire has traditionally been to hide the dark. I am not ashamed to have some degree of a "fear of the dark". I wonder if you are aware of the basic differences between Pu 238, Pu 239, and, for example, caffeine, or of the lack of data on the hazards of inhaled plutonium which plagues this whole debate.

You state that "using radioactive materials as power generators onboard satellites is one of the very few useful ways to use nuclear power discovered by mankind". Please list some of the current uses of radioactive materials you do NOT approve of, so that we can figure out where you draw the line.

I'm sorry you don't like my web page design. Frankly, I don't either, but at least it's efficient. I don't "program" my web pages, of course, I just slap them together with HTML code. For programming educational software products, I still resort to my Assembler-language tools and expect to continue to do so for some time to come.

Russell Hoffman

*** Canadian STOP CASSINI efforts (worth but old news):



Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy must not just "praise" but use international law. The rule of international law must also be used to address nuclear issues. Joan Russow, the National Leader of the Green Party of Canada, remarked that "whenever it is a question of nuclear, Canada is all rhetoric and no action".

Yesterday Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy condemned the United States Congress for failing to respect the United Nations, and the rule of international law. Yet, the Canadian government has been remiss in not using international law to address serious concerns about plutonium.

When the office of the Prime Minister and the office of External Affairs have been petitioned to intervene at the International Court of Justice "to seek an emergency hearing to stay the Cassini test pending a hearing under the rules of the Court", the Canadian government has ignored the petitions. It has failed to translate its rhetoric into action.

On Tuesday at 11 am [ed note: now past -- rdh], there will be an informational session given by Dr Fred Knelman and Dr. Joan Russow in front of Hon David Anderson's office in Victoria.

For further Information: please contact Joan Russow (250) 598-0071


Please send to Prime Minister Chretien pm@PM.GC.CA with copy to


We are writing to you on an urgent matter. As you are undoubtedly aware the President of the United States gave permission to NASA to proceed with the Cassini Mission - with 72 pounds of plutonium - on October 13. The test has been postponed until Wednesday October 15. There is mounting international concern among scientists and citizens.

A specialist in International Law, Francis Boyle, is willing to seek an Emergency Hearing of the International Court of Justice to "stay the Cassini test pending a hearing under the rules of the Court". Clinton would be obliged to obey the terms of the stay. The Order would be transmitted to the United Nations Security Council for enforcement. Dr Helen Caldicott is prepared to be a witness.




The Petition of the undersigned who now avail themselves of their ancient and undoubted right thus to present a grievance common to your Petitioners in the certain assurance that your Honourable House will therefore provide a remedy


(i) to seek an Emergency Hearing of the International Court of Justice to stay the Cassini test pending a hearing under the Rules of the Court. (ii ) to call for the extension of the 1996 International Court of Justice decision (related to the use or the Threat to the use nuclear weapons as being contrary to International Humanitarian law) to the use of Plutonium in Space exploration




*** It's too bad we keep seeing garbage like this:

*** INCOMING EMAIL *** On Thu, 23 Oct 1997 forwarded this to us:

Of course, Cassini could not have imagined that a plutonium-powered space probe named for him would be launched Oct. 16, 1997, on a seven-year journey to Saturn, a planey 886 million miles from the sun.

Nor could he have imagined that the fear of science would bring protestors to the launch because of the plutonium on board.

To imagine a world without science is to imagine a drab existence for mankind. Still, it has never been easy for science. Fear of science through the centuries has slowed man's progress. *** END OF INCOMING EMAIL ***

It's too bad that we continue to see a healthy, responsible, scientifically sound opposition to Cassini being put down as some sort of clumsy "fear of science", which it is absolutely and unequivocally not.


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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