Subject: Cassini threatens Africa most of all (again): STOP CASSINI #149
Date: July 5th, 1999 [NOTE: NASA CHANGED THE FLYBY "CLOSEST POINT OF APPROACH" TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC A WEEK OR TWO BEFORE THE FLYBY IN AN EFFORT TO MAKE THIS PAGE APPEAR INCORRECT. HOWEVER, FOR MONTHS THE "TARGET" WAS AS IT IS DESCRIBED HERE. ALSO NOTE THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY UP TO NEWSLETTER #173 AS I WRITE THIS (AUGUST 16TH 1999) BUT A "CANCEL CASSINI WEBRING" -- WHICH WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT UNTIL A FEW MINUTES AGO -- LOCKS OUT THEIR USERS WITH AN OLD COPY OF OUR NEWSLETTER INDEX PAGE! THE NEXT ISSUE (#150) HAS BEEN LISTED AS THE CURRENT ISSUE FOR THESE PEOPLE AND HITTING "REFRESH" WON'T HELP UNTIL SOMEBODY FIXES SOMETHING! (You HOPEFULLY will be able to get to our REAL newsletters index page from
Time Frame: Cassini is scheduled to do the flyby of Earth August 18th, 1999 (August 17th in the USA) near Africa.
The editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter is proud to be able to bring you this powerful INDEPENDENCE DAY statement against Cassini by U. S. Veteran Perry Keidel:
From: perry keidel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Africans will take the brunt of the NASA's scientific hubris.
Date: Sun, 4 Jul 1999 13:13:37 +0000
ENVIRONMENTAL TERRORISM & RACISM:
NASA & SUB-SAHARA AFRICA
NASA's 11/15/97 launch of the Cassini probe to explore Saturn, with 72.3 lbs of plutonium 238 (! = 400,000 curies of radiation), marked the beginning of NASA's long term, aggressive plutonium launching program.
Hiding behind NASA's glossy, Disney-like public presentation of the Cassini mission and its benign, scientific agenda is the Air Force need to get public acceptance of the kind of plutonium launching necessary to provide the massive power projection capabilities required for their next-generation, space-based weapons systems.
At the time of the launch, Dr. Michio Kaku stated, "Let's not be naive about this anymore. Star Wars is the name of this game. Cassini is one linchpin. After this they have planned 12 more plutonium shots; two reactors on Mars, nuclear booster rockets designed in Florida, orbiting hydrogen bombs, lasers to shoot satellites..."
The Cassini requires several planetary "sling shot maneuvers" to give it the velocity to reach Saturn. On 8/17/99 the Cassini will whip around and through the earth's gravitational field at over 10 miles a second -- much faster than your usual meteor. There is no margin for error at this speed and the approach envelope is specific: A little high, Cassini bounces off the earth's atmosphere. Earthlings will then need to worry about periodic plutonium encounters with a 3.5 billion dollar piece of space debris also in orbit around the Sun.
If the 8/18/99 swing-by is a tad low, global food chains receive a lethal dose of pu238. No substance known can withstand an impact with earth's atmosphere at this speed without vaporizing. Pu238, the most toxic substance known, is carcinogenic at a molecular level.
To comfort those in the industrialized Northern Hemisphere (those WITH nuclear retaliatory capability) whose thoughts may be remotely troubled at the distant prospect of a plutonium encounter with the Cassini, NASA states in "The Cassini Travel Guide": "As it would happen, Cassini's closest approach to Earth occurs just below the equator and west of 0-degrees longitude..."
The affluent occupants of the Northern Hemisphere may take comfort that Africans will take the brunt of the NASA's scientific hubris.
That life on the African Subcontinent is non-essential (Africa's minerals are essential to the Northern Hemisphere, however) is further illustrated by the launch trajectories plutonium-laden rockets take from Cape Canaveral: South and East. Propulsion failures up to and including the ignition of the final booster rockets (that gives the rocket's final shove free of the earth's gravitational field) may spell disaster for African communities.
Why should Americans care? African nations are poor, black and have no retaliatory capabilities. NASA's plutonium launch trajectories do not fly over Beijing, Moscow, Paris, or Calcutta.
NASA's post-Cassini pu238 launching hey-days represent a long awaited reward by U.S. politicians to plutonium-peddling corporate and military interests intent upon completing the job of weaponizing space: Star Wars. Never mind that low-tech decoy technologies, low flying missiles, ground delivered NBC weapons, and years of massive security "leaks" (1) to China from the Los Alamos nuclear weapons labs make the plutonium powered Star Wars strategies obsolete. Given the declared intention of Congress to circle the atmosphere with numerous nuclear powered platforms (flying Chernobyls) orbiting far over the earth once every 94 minutes; each with various "Star-Wars" strike to kill strategies: NASA's Russian Roulette with life on this planet has just begun.
Don't trust NASA to acknowledge the launch by launch risks of plutonium launching any more than the U.S. government acknowledges radiation associated health risks in any other of its myriad, tax-sucking, plutonium related operations concealed from public review and accountability. The measure of risk each NASA plutonium launch takes with life on earth is directly related to the probability that NASA will suddenly be accident free from here on out.
NASA's 12% accident rate with technologies associated with plutonium launches gives no comfort. Does NASA have a clue that when it comes to launching large quantities of plutonium 238 into indefinite orbit over our heads, NASA's safety record needs to be perfect? Is that possible of NASA, much less humans?
``There is no chance it will cross Earth's trajectory,'' said Ralph Miles, an engineer and hazardous-materials expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., which controls Cassini. ``None. Cassini is a perfect spacecraft.''
The Titanic was also perfect. And the Stealth Bomber shot down over Serbia could evade radar. And Nuclear energy is risk-free. And Clinton didn't have extra-marital sex.
Such comforting sound-bites.
Gainesville Veterans for Peace: http://www.afn.org/~vetpeace/
1. To rationalize the need for the incredible expenditures of tax revenues Star Wars development requires, a credible enemy (one whose economy can support a military apparatus that can compete with the U.S.) needs to exist. China is a worthy opponent. The U.S. may help China fill that role by 1. giving china the information to manufacture present generation ICBM capabilities and 2. provoking that enemy with acts of U.S. state terrorism like bombing its embassy. (... oh, sorry. right. that was a mistake.)
Three cheers for Perry Keidel for speaking out so strongly and so clearly, and for pointing out the various connections between seemingly-unconnected events which concern all Americans and all citizens of the world. I hope that America will wake up from the nuclear nightmare, before Cassini in August, Y2K you-know-when, or a nuclear EMP burst any time at all, make it too late for us to gather our senses and protect our environment -- both the natural one AND the social/political one. -- rdh
Dr. Louis Friedman is the Executive Director of The Planetary Society (http://www.planetary.org/), which he co-founded with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray in 1979. With over 100,000 members they are easily the most influential civilian space promotional organization in the known universe. (The banner at their web site right now reads "Your connection to the exploration of the solar system and the search for life in the universe.")
But that's just a ruse. In his role as Executive Director of TPS, Dr. Friedman's public platitudes regarding Cassini have appeared in syndicated opinion pieces published in newspapers around country. His resume, which he kindly forwarded to us last year, indicates clearly that he is OBLIGATED not to express the truth about any reentry scenario! (A quote from it and a link to it appear below.) Just as no nuclear weapons scientist could possibly be expected to explain the full details of how a nuclear bomb works, (and nor are they expected to necessarily fully comprehend the full consequences of a nuclear war) by the exact same token, Dr. Friedman is not only obligated by previous contract NOT to discuss Cassini-type "worst case" accident scenarios in their full gory detail, he is actually OBLIGED and certainly PERMITTED to make stuff up, lest he give "state secrets" away otherwise!
That is one of two reasons his email to me (shown below) does not actually contradict any point I have made. The other reason is that (as I'm sure he knows) I have researched the particulars of Cassini's threat very carefully and if he had significant points he could prove were in error, one would hope (were it not for his "obligations") that he would indeed have pointed them out.
On the subject of Cassini in particular and plutonium launch dangers in general Dr. Friedman should not be trusted until President Clinton frees his tongue. Then, perhaps Dr. Friedman will answer my previous ten challenges, or at least will explain in detail why he isn't worried about 400,000+ Curies of plutonium 238 spread among 6 billion living, breathing human beings. -- rdh
At 06:53 AM 7/2/99 -0700, you wrote:
Re. your comments on Dr. Sagan's 1989 article in support of Galileo: The Galileo mission, now nearing its fourth anniversary in Jupiter orbit represents one of the great achievement and proud successes of humankind. The spacecraft is testimony to the genius of its designers -- it has lasted twice as long as its design lifetime and brought back spectacular new information about outer planet satellites, information that is now influencing our understanding the possibilities for the origin and evolution of life, and the nature of planets throughout the universe. Textbooks have been rewritten, the public has been thrilled, and indeed -- the benefits have been priceless. We are all fortunate that the attempts of an extreme and marginalized segment of society that loudly protested the launch of Galileo failed. Citing Galileo (as you did) is probably the best testimony the Cassini proponents have -- and we appreciate your reminding us of it, and of Dr. Sagan's strong, and thoughtful, support for it.
At 01:08 AM 7/2/1999 -0700, Russell Hoffman wrote:
To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials
Subject: The reincarnation of Carl Sagan: STOP CASSINI #148
Date: July 1st, 1999
Time Frame: Cassini is scheduled to do the flyby of Earth August 18th,
1999 (August 17th in the USA) near Africa.
To: Dr. Louis Friedman (email@example.com)
From: Russell Hoffman
Re: Your and Dr. Sagan's misguided support for Galileo
Date: July 5th, 1999
Dear Dr. Friedman,
Thank you for your email of July 2nd, 1999 [shown above].
When someone tells us that something has a "one in one million" chance of failure (Cassini) or a "one in ten million" chance of failure (SNAP-9A) or a "one in one hundred thousand" chance of failure (Shuttle) or, for Galileo, a "one in two million" chance of failure, they are not proven right by a single success. Your citing of Galileo as "probably the best testimony the Cassini proponents have" is not incorrect -- it *is* the best you've got -- but as statistical "proof" that NASA is right and I am wrong, it is practically worthless. It is just one sample.
NASA tacitly acknowledged that they believe the odds they had given for a Space Shuttle accident were terribly wrong when they changed those odds drastically (from 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 76) after the Challenger explosion. NASA has modified its estimate of the chances of a shuttle accident several more times since then (appropriate, of course, since the odds do change with every successful flight). The current estimates are still far lower than one in one hundred thousand (by a factor of about 109).
Likewise, NASA was almost surely wrong when it estimated the odds against SNAP-9A returning to Earth at one in ten million. Perhaps it was that unlucky one in ten millionth time, but it's far more likely that NASA miscalculated the odds there as well.
In fact, we can roughly calculate the odds that NASA did or did not calculate the odds properly in these two instances. Here's how:
If the Challenger accident was that fairly rare "one in one hundred thousand" accident, and if the SNAP-9A accident was likewise that incredibly rare "one in ten million" accident, then the odds that BOTH would have happened is ONE IN ONE TRILLION (1/1,000,000,000,000). Those are truly long odds.
On the other hand, the odds that NASA miscalculated the odds in at least one of these instances are roughly 100%.
A MATTER OF SCALE
Challenger was a disaster and I grieve for the seven astronauts and their families. But it is not on the same scale as Cassini or Galileo -- or SNAP-9A for that matter, each of which has, or had, the capacity to kill thousands or even millions who did not volunteer for these missions. And plutonium spread throughout the environment kills silently, without compassion. As reported in newsletter #127 (May 20th, 1999), Dr. John Gofman has outlined the scientific studies which show that "just one decaying radioactive atom can produce permanent mutation in a cell's genetic molecules." Snap-9A released 17,000 Curies of plutonium 238 (mostly) into the atmosphere, all of it incinerated into particles that generally ranged from 5 to 58 microns in size, averaging about 10 microns (NASA's June 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission, page D-9). 10 microns is the ideal size for permanently lodging in a person's lung.
I believe no sane person can conclude that SNAP-9A was anything less than a horrendous radiological burden which NASA thrust upon humanity.
NASA SPOKESPERSONS SPEAK OF PERFECTION
NASA spokespeople use inappropriate terminology to describe Cassini's dangers. In a recent article in the Miami Herald, NASA spokespersons were quoted as saying Cassini had a "zero" chance of failure, and that there was "no chance" Cassini will cross Earth's path, and that the spacecraft is "perfect". Such terms are inappropriate. Even the phrase "infinitesimal" would be inappropriate. Don't believe me? Then let me use it in a similar way: An infinitesimal particle of plutonium will cause cancer. If I were to make such a statement I would be criticized roundly and appropriately, because although (as the studies Dr. Gofman discusses show) even one atom of plutonium can cause a mutation, it does not therefore follow that EVERY atom of plutonium WILL cause a mutation. In fact, Plutonium 239 in quantities of about 27 micrograms is sufficient to cause lung cancer in most cases. For Pu 238 a particle about 1/280th that size -- about .1 microns -- is sufficient. How much bigger is .1 microns than "infinitesimal"? Less difference than the dot at the end of this sentence is (in standard font sizes) from no dot at all. Plutonium 238 is awesomely carcinogenic and YOU excused it when NASA thrust this burden upon us in the past (SNAP-9A) and now help NASA to threaten to thrust it upon us again.
WE'VE ALREADY HAD CLOSE CALLS
Ulysses carried 24.2 pounds of plutonium. It was scheduled to be on board the next Challenger mission after the one that blew up on January 28th, 1986.
For Cassini, the Titan IV rocket was used instead of the Space Shuttle, with NASA (and you) proclaiming the Titan's wonderful safety record. But Titan IVs, which are normally used almost exclusively for military launches, have taken a terrible beating in the past year, haven't they? They are now rated among our most rickety rockets of all time. Where the "average" chemical rocket fails a little more than 1 in 80 launches, Titan IVs fail closer to 1 in 10. That's a terribly poor safety record which you have chosen to ignore. Neither you nor anyone at NASA has publicly apologized for falsely presenting to the public the idea that the launch of Cassini on board the Titan/Centaur combination was safe. Subsequent events have proven that it was in fact extremely dangerous and should not have been done. And America's newest rocket, the Delta III, isn't any better.
NO SAFE WAY
There is no safe way to get these nuclear probes into outer space. Even without launch failures due to mechanical problems, programming problems, workmanship problems, etc. to contend with, orbital debris is one problem which cannot be removed. With every launch or flyby it is a serious risk, and the problem is getting worse and worse because of government and international inaction. No matter how reliable the rockets become, there will still be serious risks in every launch, and nothing science can do any time soon will change that situation. So the prudent thing to do is to reduce those risks in every way possible. Design missions so that WHEN things go wrong (as they sometimes do) the results are not catastrophic. NASA could have, but did not, do that with Cassini. They rely instead on "blind luck", hoping the public will stay blind and not notice the atrocity NASA is risking. And hoping their luck, spotty though it's been in the past, holds out one more time. Because NASA knows the American public has a short memory for America's various failures. Which is too bad. We could learn a lot from the past.
Galileo's second flyby of Earth was just 180 miles above the surface of the planet. How callous was NASA then? Now, NASA pretends that raising the flyby height is some sort of response to its critics. It isn't. It is a calculated political maneuver designed to throw off both the least knowledgeable critics and the most casual reporters (which, together, is almost everybody). To that extent raising the flyby altitude in steps, as they have done with Cassini (and might do again) has been extremely successful. The reporters are duped, the practically-worthless International treaties are not violated, and the public is confused about the real issues by powerful and misleading spokespersons -- like you.
A BRIGHT SIDE
There is a bright side. Too bad it's not an American venture:
Rosetta, a comet-chaser (designed for chasing Comet Wirtanen) is being unveiled by the European Space Agency (ESA). Rosetta will do *two* flybys of Earth (and one of Mars). This is of no concern, because Rosetta is a solar-powered, not a nuclear, mission. It will go on a 5.3 Billion kilometer trip. Here is a quote from ESAs July 1st press release:
"Since Rosetta will have to operate more than 720 million km (450 million miles) from the Sun, where light levels are only 4% of those on the Earth, it has to carry giant solar panels to provide electrical power in the dark depths of the Solar System." -- From European Space Agency (http://www.sci.esa.int) press release, June 1st, 1999
We love this mission! We fully support it. It will operate for at least 10 years, it will return "priceless" research, and it will not endanger anybody. America could lead in things like that. Instead Americans have offered the world the Cassini nightmare. Cassini will NEVER make me proud to be an American, even if 10 years from now "textbooks are rewritten" because of it. And especially not if, next month, textbooks (and mortuary tables, and "background radiation levels") are rewritten because of it. Successful mission or not, Cassini will always be a failure for NASA, because it shows their callousness. It shows NASA's arrogance. It also shows their brutality, their deviousness, their dishonesty, their disregard for human and animal lives and health, and most of all Cassini shows the world that NASA is NOT a civilian agency "devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind" as their own "Declaration of Policy and Purpose" commands them to be. Peace does not come from 400,000 Curies of useless poison threatening the entire world (sub-equatorial Africa is the most threatened area of all).
Cassini, with more plutonium than any other mission (past, present, or planned), could be the "mother of all space disasters" and the "mother of all bad publicity" for NASA. A successful flyby will not be a feather in anyone's cap. It will still stand as a testimony to arrogance on the part of a supposedly "civilian" space organization and its backers who are few but powerful.
You have never considered a true "worst case scenario" -- have never accepted the concept that an estimate of around a thousand deaths might be 3 or 4 (or more) orders of magnitude shy of the actual figure. Neither did David Grinspoon or Carl Sagan, and NASA never does either.
A POLICY BOUND FOR FAILURE
If the policy of plutonium launches continues, it's just a matter of time before a nuclear probe goes dead among the inner planets. It may not intersect Earth for a century or more. After 100 years the number of Curies of Plutonium (using the mix of Pu 238 to Pu 239 used for Cassini as an example) would have decayed only to about half what it was when it started. However, the containment system would have been powerfully irradiated from both external and internal sources, and may have become brittle and useless (NASA admits the characteristics are completely untested for "long-term inadvertent reentry" on page 4-104 of the June 1995 EIS for the Cassini mission). The probe could also have randomly done some additional flybys of various planets and be traveling a great deal faster than Cassini is now.
If the policy of plutonium launches continues, a late launch failure WILL occur (most likely over Africa, for most flights). A powered-descent into the ground immediately after launch may happen some day if we don't advance our technology away from the dangerous and rickety rockets we now use. THAT is what statistics can teach us. That failures CAN and WILL occur. That human beings and their machines are not perfect, despite what NASA spokespeople tell us.
It would be no big deal if Cassini reentered Earth's atmosphere, if we properly and prudently planned for such periodic problems. But we haven't. We have simply (and for no good reason) wagered that nothing will go wrong. As Mark Elsis of http://www.lovearth.org puts it, we have gambled with the Devil. And that's never a safe bet.
Even disregarding the deaths and human suffering that might be caused from a Cassini (but NOT a Rosetta) failure, it amazes me that NASA would even risk such awful publicity! (This apparently even disappoints David Grinspoon.) It would be a shame if the first century of human powered flight were to close with a tragedy such as a Cassini reentry accident could be (not all reentry accidents scenarios are alike, although you, Grinspoon and Sagan (not to mention Otto Raabe and others) all have written as though they are).
Each day we get closer to the Earth flyby things are actually getting more and more risky. The mathematics of this are simple: Earth is ever-so-slightly "biased" off to the side of Cassini's current trajectory. Each day, each moment, Earth (which is right now about 75 million miles away from Cassini) looms bigger and bigger, coming closer now at around 56,000 miles per hour, yet it stays almost exactly "dead-ahead" (cosmically speaking).
Right now if Cassini goes off course, chances are less that it will hit Earth, than the chances will be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. (And just to make matters worse, recall also, that if the probe were to become uncontrollable today or tomorrow or any time before the flyby of Earth, it will be left in an orbit that "tends" (NASA's word, page B-4 of the June 1995 Environmental Impact Study for the Cassini mission) to be in the vicinity of Earth's own orbit.)
So every day we wait before redirecting Cassini matters. Each day, even each minute, the "odds" can be recalculated, and they are getting worse and worse (except of course, that every day that goes by is one less day something can go wrong, which is little comfort, really). Only in the last few HOURS (or perhaps even minutes) before the Earth flyby in August will the mathematical odds of a random change in Cassini's direction impacting Earth start to go down with each passing minute instead of up. NASA makes a big deal about this so-called "bias" but if you look at the amount of fuel that it will take to correct the "bias", it is clear that it is a trivial amount. Cassini is aimed practically right down our throats. The "bias" is something on the order of a tenth of a degree of arc. A cosmic hare's breath.
NASA HAS PINPOINT ACCURACY IN TIME AND SPACE (OR DOES IT?)
The flyby will occur on August 18th from the point of view of the local time (about 3:28 a.m.) to the closest point of approach to Earth, which will be a little west of 0 degrees longitude and just south of the equator, (near (and aiming towards) Africa)). It will be the evening of August 17th in the USA.
The danger from a loss-of-control and misfire or outgassing of propellent or anything, including collision with space debris, telemetry errors, programming errors -- you-name-it -- increases daily throughout the summer.
After the flyby, if it is successful (I have always admitted that it is most likely to succeed), you and your cohorts -- your little band of mad scientists -- will make a great public spectacle of yourselves and your growing track record. To do this you will have to continue to completely ignore the issue that just because a statistically unlikely event did not occur once (or twice, or even a 1000 times) does not mean it will not occur at all -- or the very next time. We were some 25 missions into successful Space Shuttle launches before disaster struck. We were sending civilians up. We were confident.
You deny Cassini is dangerous on two counts: You proclaim it has an absurdly low chance of failure, and then claim that anyway, practically no one would be hurt. If I am wrong but we do what I want to do anyway, space science continues, but safely, albeit we would throw away a few billion dollars once and there would be some trivial delays, caused by discarding a risky policy which should not have been followed in the first place. If you are wrong and we do what you want (which is what we are doing), there can be an accident which can cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives. It therefore behooves you to tell the public the full truth of why they should risk this -- instead, you simply and without reason deny everything which suggests against the mission. You deny the potential harm 400,000 Curies of plutonium 238 can cause, you deny the possibility NASA's illustrious "one in one million" odds are hokey, and you deny most of all the obvious military connection to all this mess. You are in denial of the facts, Dr. Friedman. You are in denial.
But yet you, Dr. Friedman, have chosen to step up to the plate again, after nearly a year of silence in my newsletter. But we were in the middle of a debate when you walked away last time. You still owe me a number of explanations for your many previous absurd statements; I asked you 10 very specific questions which you have so far declined to answer. They were fair questions and I'm still waiting. Here's the URL if you want to (re)read them and join back in the conversation where you left it off:
As to your most recent statement, regarding my comments to David Grinspoon in newsletter #148, it's interesting how you again avoid all the REAL issues in order to support your friend's mad-scientist missions. You don't dispute any of my facts, you merely draw an alternate conclusion (that Galileo was worth its risk), which Grinspoon himself has shown (despite himself) is historically incorrect.
SMALL STEPS FORWARD FOR HUMANITY -- BIG STEPS BACK
You find these small steps -- Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses -- each return "priceless" knowledge. Yet even those on your own side now admit that just a brief wait of one decade would have made Galileo safe, and Ulysses never needed to be plutonium-powered at all. Like you they may not feel the wait is worthwhile, but at least they admit it would have worked. You want to stay one step beyond what can safely be done. Why?
Galileo was a grave risk to all human life, including billions who never have even heard of the mission or its results -- the average American, for instance. The D. E. Rockey 1981 NASA/JPL report concluded a solar-powered mission could have replaced Galileo, and even would have been cheaper. That was then. It's only more true now, as Grinspoon admits and ESA proves.
Thus, the only people saying Galileo was worth it are those people who think a decade's wait was worth the danger, or those in suicidal and homicidal (not to mention genocidal and omnicidal) denial of the obvious. In all instances I have found, the ones who think it was so very urgent are ALSO the very same ones who do not stop to envision the true "worst case scenario", and who will not speak of its unspeakable details in public -- will not talk of cities wiped out, or terrorists getting hold of any RTGs or GPHSs that survive (the RHUs are "toast", of course), will not speak of global increases in painful cancers, leukemia and birth defects, and will not speak of any other dire fact. They just speak in riddles, saying nothing, and they remain silent on the real issues.
The only thing we are arguing about is 10 short years, if that. Did we need to risk hundreds of thousands of Curies of plutonium spread throughout the world in order for Galileo to get some data about Jupiter 10 years sooner? That is the whole extent of the argument presented in your email. Not that Galileo could not return good science, but that one decade is or is not a short enough time to consider the awesome risk we were taking then and are taking again now. Earth was threatened with a horrific genocide because you couldn't wait 10 years, and now you use that attack on the peaceful people of planet Earth as some sort of "proof" that we should be attacked again with even more plutonium, which is flying at us much faster this time, and in essentially the same imperfect and improperly-tested containment system.
CLAIMING WE ARE THE EXTREMISTS IS ABSURD
Despite your consistent attempts to paint the anti-nukes-in-space crowd as "extremist" and "marginal" (which started long before I ever got into the movement and continues unchanged to this day (except I am now the target of your vitriol), there are good, strong reasons to oppose the NASA/MILITARY policies of using nuclear components with thousands of Curies of deadly plutonium 238 in them.
In point of fact, Dr. Friedman, YOU are the extremist. The mad scientist. You try to pass off a fraud upon society, promoting a deadly civilian agenda simply to hide a more dangerous military activity. You refuse to debate the issues (or answer the hard questions). You find comfort in a statistical sample of one, to prove that "one in one million" is an accurate estimate of the dangers. You had two choices, Dr. Friedman: You could write for my web site, or you could write for yours. You chose to write for mine. It is amazing that you will not let any of my articles appear before your readers (if you can help it), yet you have written a dozen letters to me (mostly with pointless one-liners and trivial side-tracks). If you really thought I was as much of a crank as you profess, you would help your readers to know it by properly addressing the issues and showing where I am wrong. And linking to my web site so they could decide for themselves who is making sense and who is blowing smoke.
Instead you simply attack my conclusion that Cassini is sheer, utter folly without stating any contradictory evidence and without PROVING a thing. You jokingly thank me for presenting Carl Sagan's sorry statement in support of Galileo, but of course, if you really thought I had done you a great service, you would reprint my newsletter at your web site so your readers could see how foolish I am at the same time. But you cannot do that, because you are afraid it is YOU they will see as foolish. Just as IEEE Spectrum, Astronomy Magazine and so many others cannot fight the truth any other way, you too can only fight it with censorship.
You claim we are marginal, yet your actions betray your true concern -- that we ARE being listened to, and that Mainstream America -- not to mention the rest of the thinking, caring, compassionate human race -- is on our side, not yours.
WHY MUST WE FIGHT, DR. FRIEDMAN?
Indeed, Dr. Friedman, it is a shame that we should be arguing about something like this at all. If Cassini were solar-powered, you and I would be on the same side regarding Cassini -- I have always promoted a safe exploration of the solar system. So why aren't we united? Just because of your support for those incredibly filthy, deadly, genocidal RTGs and RHUs!
You have said in previous emails to me, that you are staunchly against nuclear war (who isn't?). So, why did you not step in two months ago and help me tell people about the horrors of nuclear weapons when I wrote about them in newsletter #123? That article is now available separately here:
Why must we fight each other, Dr. Friedman? We could both be supporting space exploration -- as well as peace, global unity and American leadership -- with just one small change in the technology you support. One small correction to your direction.
ONE LAST QUESTION
I will close by asking you the exact same question I asked David Grinspoon: If everything else was EXACTLY equal (including the "odds", the engineering, everything), and Cassini carried ten times the nuclear payload that it actually carried, would that be enough for you to oppose it? If not 4,000,000 Curies, then would 40,000,000 Curies be enough? 400,000,000 Curies? What is your EXACT limit, and why isn't 400,000 Curies above it? Let me be specific: Exactly how mad of a mad scientist are you, Dr. Friedman? We can put an exact number on this. We can rate you. Just tell us the number at which you would start to worry. My level is .001 Curies. I do not deny the usefulness of small quantities of plutonium for some scientific experiments, but 400,000 Curies is way, way, too much.
Most of this letter was written July 2nd, 1999. Sorry for the delay in responding but I was celebrating American Independence, something I like to think still means something. But thanks again for writing anyway and by doing so, helping to prove to the rest of the world that the voice of the STOP CASSINI newsletter is important.
Russell D. Hoffman
Concerned Citizen / Sector Air Warden for the SoCal district
Founder and Editor, STOP CASSINI newsletter
The following is from your resume, which is shown in newsletter #77:
September 1963 - September 1968: AVCO Corporation, Wilmington, Massachusetts.
"Earth Orbital (classified) Missions Analyses -
Thus, Dr. Friedman, you are clearly UNABLE to speak freely on the subject of Cassini's reentry risks, and so you choose instead to "lie with statistics", to disparage me, and to publicly attempt to humiliate me, for doing my duty as a Free and Unfettered United States Citizen who is seeking to protect the Earth and its inhabitants -- including my beloved fellow American citizens -- from a disgusting Cold War relic -- namely you.
From SPACE NEWS (http://www.spacenews.com), July 5th, 1999 comes the following article. Because of the problem of space debris, we've been saying this a long time (for example, in newsletter #23, from two years ago) and only wish it would happen sooner, so it's nice to hear someone else say it as well.
Official: Geostationary Satellites Will Disappear
Fiber-optic cables eventually will serve most parts of the world and virtually eliminate the role of geostationary communications satellites in providing links between individual locations, predicts Peter E. Jackson, chief executive officer of Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd.
Within 50 years, satellites will be used primarily for mobile communications in remote areas and to distrubute television and other material to many locations at once, Jackson said June 25 during the CommunicAsia 99 conference. For everything else, "I see no rationale to stay on satellites," he said.
Long live the Internet! [Note: The editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter does not think we need Geosynchronous Satellites at all! We don't need them for remote telephones because a "constellation" of solar-powered high-flying, slow-moving, very light-weight, automated airplanes can handle those needs all over the world, and for mass-mind-control-broadcasting purposes, the ground-based Internet is also far better. For example, a vastly faster ground-based Internet could easily have not just CSPAN 1 and CSPAN 2, but also CSPAN 50,000, CSPAN 50,001 and so on. THIS would provide "egalitarian leadership". -- rdh]
I would like to see America make itself stronger by switching to renewable power sources. Doing so would mean that each year, day in and day out, electricity would be very nearly free -- "too cheap to meter" was the phrase the nuclear industry erroneously used in the 1950's to promote THEIR version of an "alternative power source" but by the late 60's and early 1970's it was clear that "too cheap to meter" was really "too expensive to even admit what the true costs are"! They still don't know what the true costs will be; they have not solved the waste problem AT ALL! Every solution they have promised would be developed over some period of time, has fallen by the wayside because it was impractical. And in nearly every instance, perhaps even in every instance, good scientists TOLD them that their system would not work! For example, thirty years ago, "glassification" was proudly and prominently promoted as the most probable and promising permanent solution to the nitpicking notion that there was (and still is) a nuclear waste storage problem. At the time, someone pointed out that the gasses emitting from the radioactive materials would build up and eventually break the glass. 30 years later, just in the past year or so in fact, the idea of glassification was FINALLY abandoned for good. Why? Gas build-up breaks the glass! It has been like that for every nuclear waste storage method ever proposed -- except one. That is "spread it around the Earth and pretend it won't kill anybody". That they have been doing (quietly) for years, and it's been working just fine. People do indeed pretend the waste is not killing anybody!
So, I am very interested in alternatives to nuclear, and coal and oil are only slightly better solutions so they need to be replaced too. The solutions are:
Tidal, wave, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro. These are some of the alternatives which you can build once and then you get clean power forever (with proper maintenance). Hydroelectric has been much maligned by many environmentalists, but I still love hydroelectric power. (Although Niagara falls already produces many megawatts of electricity, I think that Niagara Falls should be "shut down" almost completely so that it can replace the local nuclear power plants, for example.)
New, extremely efficient pumps can make technologies which were previously unworkable as clean energy solutions fully viable, but there is no national will to convert to these clean energy solutions. It's too bad.
-- Russell D. Hoffman
Written July 4th, 1999 (Independence Day) for a strong America
Scientific American will have a Cassini article very soon. I hope that it is a less biased piece than the recent Astronomy magazine article by David Grinspoon. The editor of the SC newsletter is happy to see that it looks like Scientific American magazine made a good effort to contact many of the most important scientists involved in the issues:
"...there is a Cassini flyby story planned for the August issue of Scientific American. The author is interviewing many of key players for the noflyby (sic), including Karl Grossman, Michio Kaku, Earl Budin, Ernest Sternglass, John Gofman, Bruce Gagnon, Carol Rosin, F.R. Sarker and many others. The NoFlyby website is helping with easy access to critical information and with contacts."
To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini in 1997, ask them for the June, 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission. At the same time, be sure to ask them for ANY and ALL documentation available on future uses of plutonium in space, including MILITARY, CIVILIAN, or "OTHER" (just in case they make a new category somehow!). To get this information, contact:
Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011 or
NASA states that they do not have the resources anymore to answer most emails they receive. Liars! They have $13 billion dollars to play with. They can answer the public's questions!
Here's NASA's "comments" email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address:
Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT NASA IS DOING TO YOUR HEALTH.
Be sure to "cc" the president and VP and your senators and congresspeople, too.
Always include your full name and postal address in all correspondence to any Government official of any country.
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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
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