STOP CASSINI Newsletter #170 -- August 12th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: The blood on their hands is thick and coagulated: STOP CASSINI #170

Date: August 12th, 1999

Time Frame: Cassini is scheduled to do the flyby of Earth next week!

Today's Subjects:

(1) Press coverage about the lack of press coverage doesn't count as press coverage!:


To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
Subject: I saw an article about Cassini in Portland, Oregon

It was published in the WILLAMETTE WEEKLY in an article on the ten least covered stories of the year--or something to that effect. I was amazed that Cassini made the list, but I just read the last newsletter (Aug. 9) and you mentioned to the inquiry from England that there has only been one mention of Cassini in the press. I though maybe you'd want to know about others...You know, I think that the UTNE READER magazine also ran a similar feature--covered up stories--and I believe Cassini was mentioned there, too. These both would have run in the last 6-10 months.


Actually, I said (of a biased and virtually worthless Miami Herald article) that it was "about" the only coverage. See below for some more biased coverage Cassini recently received, and of course we have also learned of a Village Voice article which we discussed last issue.

Besides, when virtually the only coverage you have are a few articles saying how covered-up your story is, you're not making much progress.

-- rdh

(2) Universe Today totally confused; can't understand what's going on:

The blurb about the article in Space Views about Cassini is laughably inaccurate. The article isn't much better. Both are discussed below:


Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 23:43:01 -0700
To: Universe Today Newsletter
From: Universe Today
Subject: Universe Today, August 12th, 1999


Space Exploration News From Around the Internet, Updated Every Weekday.
August 12th, 1999 - Issue #82
Every time Cassini swings by the Earth for a valuable gravity assist on its way to Saturn, it also stirs up a little controversy thanks to its plutonium reactor, which protestors fear could cause damage if the probe crashed. Cassini's final slingshot past the Earth will happen on August 17th, and will arrive at Saturn in 2004.


All contents copyright (c) 1999 Universe Today
Brought to you by



Let's see, what do they know?

1) "Every time Cassini swings by the Earth". Cassini has NEVER "swung by Earth" before and never will again (or shouldn't, if all goes according to plan).

2) "valuable gravity assist". Actually, other planets could have been used. Earth was used because they didn't care about the risk. (Indeed, there is now an utterly unsubstantiated rumor of a new NASA policy not to use Earth for gravity assists of radioactive probes, but it's a rumor from a very unreliable source -- Dr. J.A.G. (see newsletter #168)). Furthermore, "valuable" is an fairly easily determined value -- since other launch methods could have (for an additional cost) sent the probe (or perhaps two smaller ones) on its journey to Saturn without any gravity assists at all.

3) "plutonium reactor". It's NOT a reactor at all! The RTGs, with nearly 72 pounds of plutonium dioxide (mostly Pu 238 and some Pu 239) just use the heat of radioactive decay to produce a modest amount of electricity (less than 750 watts). The RHUs on board, which always go unmentioned (except by the editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter), likewise just produce a little warmth for some equipment, at a risk of spreading 3/4s of a pound of Pu 238 into the atmosphere. (Note: The RHUs are absolutely going to incinerate and vaporize their plutonium contents in a reentry accident. The RTGs are slightly less likely to completely vaporize their plutonium contents.)

4) "which protestors fear could cause damage if the probe crashed." This is of course, utterly incorrect! The plutonium WILL cause damage if the probe "crashed" into Earth -- more specifically, reenters Earth's atmosphere at 43,000 miles per hour. That is why the protestors are concerned -- there is NO QUESTION that people WILL DIE if a reentry accident occurs. The ONLY question is HOW MANY PEOPLE will die? NASA's 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission says "only" 120 would die. If they could have found a way to claim even less, I'm sure they would have. The S.E.R. (a later government report, from 1997) suggests "tens of thousands". Eminent physician and radiation expert Dr. John W. Gofman has estimated perhaps around a million deaths from a reentry accident, and Dr. Ernest Sternglass has put the number in the 10s of millions.

5) "August 17th". It is still indicated as August 18th according to NASA (in "universal time"), although it will be the 17th in the U.S.A.

If the description is that full of errors, I hated to imagine what the article itself looks like! And sure enough, it is just as full of lies (for example, calling our efforts "modest protests" whatever that really means) and half-truths, and ends claiming the risk is now "essentially zero". Cassini is still about 5 million miles away, aiming at a spot just 725 miles above the surface of the Earth. MANY THINGS can go wrong between now and the flyby which could cause Cassini to go off course and to reenter Earth's atmosphere.

In fact, this next week is BY FAR the MOST DANGEROUS time, other than (perhaps) the TCMs, (Trajectory Correction Maneuvers) which have thankfully, now been completed. The pass through Earth's manmade debris field, in the last hour before and after the flyby, are the most dangerous moments of all for Cassini itself, regardless of the chance of impact. In fact, that is probably the REAL reason the "rumor" about not using Earth for future flybys exists! It's DUMB to use Earth, with its tens of millions of pieces of debris hurtling around at an average speed of about 17,000 miles per hour!

When you are dealing with 400,000 Curies of Pu 238 in a highly vaporizable form such as Cassini's, "essentially zero" isn't good enough (whatever it is that "essentially zero" actually means!). And it ignores completely NASA's own statement, from the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement on the Cassini mission (page B-4) which states that any accident on legs targeted towards Earth or Venus which leaves the probe uncontrollable for any reason (including hitting a piece of space debris as the probe passes "safely" by Earth) will leave the probe in an orbit which "tends" (NASA's word) to "remain in the vicinity of Earth's orbit." So we aren't out of the woods yet.

And it need not go unnoticed that Space Views does not link to our web site, although they do link to one of our worthiest co-belligerents.

In the actual article they give the weight as "72.6" lbs (72.3 is a more accurate and more commonly given number). They have the date wrong in one place, as "August 19", and as expected they don't mention the RHUs at all. And it has been anything but a "modest protest" as the article describes it, using, for some reason, the past tense.

Any readers of the STOP CASSINI newsletter who might want to contact SPACE VIEWS should use this email address to do so. I've added them to the STOP CASSINI press distribution list. They obviously need our little newsletter so they can get their facts straight.

-- Russell Hoffman



Cassini Ready for Earth Flyby

Published: 1999 August 11

11:38 pm ET (0338 UT)

A successful thruster burn early Wednesday, August 11 put NASA's Cassini spacecraft on course for an Earth flyby next week en route to Saturn.

A 130-second burn by Cassini's main thruster at 11:30 am EDT (1530 UT) put the spacecraft on the precise course planned for the spacecraft's August 17 Earth flyby, mission officials at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said.

During the flyby, Cassini will fly 1,166 km (725 mi.) above the south Pacific Ocean at 11:28 pm EDT (0328 UT August 19). The spacecraft may be visible to observers in islands in the region, such as Pitcairn Island and Easter Island.

Nine of Cassini's twelve instruments will operate during the flyby, collecting data ranging from the Earth's magnetic field to images of the Moon. Besides their scientific value, the observations will help characterize the instruments for their eventual use at Saturn.

The flyby is the third in a series of four such gravity-assist swingbys that will help propel the massive spacecraft towards Saturn. Cassini performed two flybys of Venus in June and in April 1998, and will make a flyby of Jupiter in December 2000 before arriving at Saturn in July 2004.

Once at Saturn, the spacecraft will spend at least four years studying the planet, its rings, and its retinue of moons, including Titan. That moon, enshrouded in haze and thought to harbor oceans of liquid hydrocarbons, will be the target of the European-built Huygens probe carried on Cassini.

The flyby had generated modest protests by antinuclear activists, who feared that the an accident during the flyby could cause Cassini to crash into Earth and distribute the 33 kg (72.6 lbs.) of plutonium dioxide encased in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs).

NASA had predicted the odds of such an accident were one in one million, but activists dismissed those claims, instead claiming the odds of an accident were as high as 1 in 10. With the successful thruster burn, however, the odds of such an accident become essentially zero.

Related Stories:
Keck Telescope Shows Evidence for Oceans on Titan -- 1999 July 13
Cassini Makes Successful Venus Flyby -- 1999 June 25
Other News (Cassini Protests) -- 1999 June 15
Anti-Cassini Forces Gearing Up Again -- 1999 April 19
Related Sites:
Cassini status report for 1999 August 11
Stop Cassini Earth Flyby [NOTE: this links to the noflyby web site -- rdh]
Home | Sites of the Week | Subscriptions | Article Submissions | Back Issues
Special Features | Awards & Recognition | Bookstore | Media Kit


It is interesting to note that they clearly imply, in the last sentence, that that third TCM was indeed, the frightening moment we claimed it was.

(3) It's so easy to make a mistake:

Mistakes are a part of life. The idea is to protect yourself properly from the consequences. NASA has not done that with Cassini (which wasn't even "shake tested" (reportedly because of lack of funding) prior to launch). Here is a description of how a tiny little thing can cause a big, big problem for a space vehicle, and the theory applies to many things in life:


Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 12:44:17 -0400
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: Larry Klaes
Subject: So easy to make a mistake...

Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 11:14:46 -0400 (EDT)
Reply-To: fpspace@SOLAR.RTD.UTK.EDU
Sender: fpspace@SOLAR.RTD.UTK.EDU
From: Erik Limpaecher (
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: So easy to make a mistake...
X-Comment: Friends and Partners in Space

(CNN) -- Technicians have identified a metal bur raised on a Phillips-head screw by a power tool as the cause of a short circuit five seconds into space shuttle Columbia's launch last month, a NASA spokesman said Tuesday. The short circuit, which knocked out two of the six computers controlling the shuttle's rocket engines, along with a hydrogen leak in one of Columbia's engine nozzles, marred the otherwise successful launch on July 23 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. "That little bur on the top of an appropriately and firmly installed screw head and a wire, in the vicinity over 26 flights and 20 ferry flights on back of a 747, vibrated so much in that environment it finally wore through a wire," said Joel Wells, a Kennedy Space Center spokesman. "It kind of lacerated the insulation of the wire," he said. The exposed wire and stripped screw created an opportunity for an electrical arc, Wells said. If the short circuit had continued to knock out computers, it could have forced an emergency landing in Florida or Africa. NASA managers, engineers and technicians were to decide late Tuesday whether the finding and a subsequent inspection for similar screws on another spacecraft in the shuttle fleet will force a delay in Endeavour flight set for September 16. That flight involves a radar mapping mission.

Tell-tale burn marks

A team of technicians working in the shuttle's payload bay easily identified the cause of the short circuit Saturday and Sunday, Wells said. By tracing the bundled wires, they found evidence of electrical arcing, as well as burn marks on the screw and the wire. "It's very clear to them that this was the cause of the short," Wells said. Technicians started looking >over Columbia as soon as it landed July 27, but equipment in its payload bay got in the way of a full inspection. Last week, they pulled out the framework that had been used to hold in a booster rocket attached to the Chandra X-ray Space Observatory into orbit. The shuttle mission successfully released that space telescope currently orbiting Earth.

Technicians search other shuttles

Now the question is whether there are other screws similarly stripped, either during the shuttle fleet's construction by what is now Lockheed Martin or during servicing in the past four years by the Boeing-led consortium called United Space Alliance. "It's likely that that is a situation that could have existed for many, many years," said KSC spokesman Bruce Buckingham. This week, technicians have studied Columbia and one of its three virtual twins, Atlantis. They may study Discovery as well. Along with engineers, they will make a prediction on whether the problem is likely to exist on Endeavour and should force a delay of its upcoming mission. Technicians were set to roll Endeavour from its hangar to KSC's Vehicle Assembly Building Tuesday, but that has been delayed until Wednesday due to the screw finding. At its next stop, the shuttle would be mated to the huge, orange, external fuel tank and boosters. It is set for installation on its launch pad on August 18. If engineers recommend looking at Endeavour for stripped screws, the launch would be delayed, Wells said. Its payload is installed, its payload doors are closed and it has been checked for leaks. "If you start opening things up you are not only impacting your schedule, you are also compromising areas you already have prepared for flight. You don't want to do that unless you have to," he said. Columbia is the oldest orbiter in the shuttle fleet, while Endeavour, a replacement for the Challenger shuttle, which exploded just after launch in 1986, has logged only 13 flights.

Endeavour mission could be delayed

Engineers will make a recommendation and meet with managers Tuesday at 4 p.m. to decide whether to go forward with the Endeavour schedule or postpone its move to the Vehicle Assembly Building -- and therefore the launch, Wells said. It is unclear when the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission would fly if it were postponed, Wells said. A Hubble Space Telescope maintenance mission is set for October, with an International Space Station assembly mission to follow in December. Those missions are unlikely to be pushed back so the SRT mission might be postponed into 2000. NASA engineers who probed the potentially hazardous hydrogen gas leak in the space shuttle Columbia's right main engine in July said it arose when a loose pin fell and weakened three stainless steel cooling tubes ringing the nozzle when the engines started. A rupture followed, making the engine run 100 degrees hotter than planned and use more propellant. That left Columbia about seven miles short of its intended orbit. But the problem, as well as the short circuit, did not affect the overall mission.


(4) Revolution of the Sane and Simple Must Occur:


Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 10:39:57 -0600
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: Tessalin Green
Subject: Revolution of the Sane and Simple

It's hard for me to find words to describe the issues at hand here in this state of insanity. I reach for a bigger picture that can inspire my life to contribute to the positive evolution of human consciousness. I can allow for all forms of human expression to play out their dramas in some kind of invisible divine balance. But here we have immense military forces at work that place the entirety of life on earth at jeopardy. My vision is not large enough to see how this can fit into a "divine plan". To me it is an infantile power of ignorance becoming cancerous and consuming all it touches as it kills itself. It is like the Columbine kids. It would be seem to be ideal for this cancer to consume only itself, but it appears to want to bring an ugly death to all. Death is with us always, as with the death of cells in the body, or the death that comes with the release of every breath, or the death of who we believe we are when we dream at night, or in the death that takes our bodies and entire identity away forever... Death is to be included and honored for it is a partner to Life. What is it in human consciousness that is expressing itself in disregard for the health of the whole? What can be done to balance this complete ignorance? It seems that at some point a revolution of the sane and simple must occur to make it possible for life to continue. How this revolution will appear is yet a mystery. Perhaps it has many facets, many faces. One of them is yours.

It is a Sacred Privledge to Be Here.

Tessalin Green
[Boulder, CO]

"Dare to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be is not the society that is to guide and save the creative hero but precisely the reverse."

from "Hero With A Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell


The editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter deeply appreciates Tessalin's comments and the Sacred Privledge it has been to write these newsletters and have them be read all around the world. I only wish they could have been successful (rumors notwithstanding). I hope that it does not take a preponderance of cancer victims' relatives (such as myself) to cry out loud enough to stop the madness of Cassini and other nuclear launches, nuclear weapons and so forth. I hope it only takes a preponderance of reason. First, I think, we need to all find out why someone like Dr. J.A.G. , David Grinspoon, and so many others can get so close, and think they have succeeded so well, and yet in reality have failed so miserably to protect the environment and the integrity of the scientific method.

Today it was reported that "evolution" (and also, the "big bang" theory) doesn't have to be taught in schools in Kansas, and the ruling leaves the door open for "creationism" to be taught as an alternative theory instead.

But I will say this: Evolution is NOT A THEORY! It is, however, not a proven fact either. What it is, is a one-word description of a collection of scientific evidence from tens of thousands of scientists, doing millions of individual research projects and experiments, and reporting on those things (hopefully honestly done and honestly reported). All these millions of statements, and projections based on the research, and all the claims of what might be or not be, are not simply one "theory". So to simply not teach it, is to ignore the work of tens of thousands of people!

"Evolution" is millions of theories. Creationism is another theory, it is true. But by its very nature, it is unprovable, because it certainly cannot be disputed, that God could have created things as described in the Bible, but left it to appear as though they had been evolving "since time began". That satisfies BOTH "theories" and allows us all to get some work done. Then the only question becomes, can we ever learn why it appears so strongly that we have a common ancestor with monkeys?

Do we need to know why? Perhaps the purpose of the misconception is simply to get those of us who doubt it, to consider the beasts, the birds, the fish, the mammals of the deep, and not to mention all those creepy things that crawl all over, even in and out of nuclear waste sites, as both our brethren and our responsibility. But then, that point was spelled out explicitly anyway.

Pope John Paul II "tipped his hat" to evolutionary theory some time ago (although I don't recall, at this time, his exact words). This is, perhaps, an attempt to tip the hat back.

-- Russell D. Hoffman, going out on an (r)evolutionary limb...

(5) David Doody really, REALLY wants to put his head in the sand:

A month or so ago, David Doody, a NASA Cassini engineer, asked to be removed from the STOP CASSINI newsletter list. We told him "no", as published at the time in one of the earlier STOP CASSINI newsletters. He must have been reading the newsletters a little, because he saw the item about the British MP who dropped off, and felt I would understand the similar logic by which he should be let off the hook as well. But the difference is, Mr. Doody is directly responsible for Cassini. It is very important that he completely understand the potential consequences of his potential (human) failure.


Date: Thu, 12 Aug 1999 15:35:10 -0700
To: "Russell D. Hoffman"
From: David F Doody (

delete my address too, please.



At 06:20 PM 8/11/99 +0100, you wrote:

Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 18:20:05 +0100
From: Peter Bottomley (
Subject: The Doomsday Rocket! STOP CASSINI #167: August 9th, 1999

delete my address please


----- MY RESPONSE: -----

Dear Mr. Bottomley:

As you have requested, your name has been removed from the STOP CASSINI newsletter distribution list, less than 12 hours after it had been added as a government official of a cooperating nation with Cassini.


----- MY RESPONSE: -----

Dear Sir:

Your title:


I am communicating with you as a member of the PUBLIC -- a U. S. citizen -- who has PAID FOR your salary and NASA's lies and does not wish to pay for EITHER ONE anymore. I have asked many questions of those at NASA, which are fair questions and deserve honest answers, which I have NEVER received. Furthermore, of the many thousands of scientists and engineers who have worked on Cassini, barely a dozen have been added to my STOP CASSINI newsletter list, and all of those addresses have been obtained through legitimate means such as going to the NASA web site to see who we have been told to ask questions of.

So the answer is, as I responded to you before, no way. I wish you'd start answering some of the questions I've been asking, however.

There are more than enough nameless scientists and engineers at NASA. Are you one of the ones who has supposedly been told there will be no Earth flybys anymore? Can you substantiate the rumor for me?

Do you understand the radiological burden of 400,000 Curies of plutonium 238 (mostly) and some Pu239 vaporized in 10 micron particles (average size, if YOUR (NASA's) SNAP-9A failure is anything to go by) on a small fragile "spaceship" with 6,000,000,000 souls on board? Can you prove to me that you understand the medical aspects of your game? What are your medical qualifications for supporting and working on "The Doomsday Rocket" as someone apparently is calling it over in England (and deservedly so)?

Thanks for writing. If next week, Cassini smashes into any of the 10s of millions of pieces of space debris which encircle the Earth and is destroyed (even without a reentry to Earth) you will be out of job, it seems. What will you write me then? And if, against NASA's odds, Cassini impacts Earth, what might you say then? "delete my address too, please"? That won't cut it. You'll owe a better explanation than that. Have you been with NASA long enough to have actually been part of the SNAP-9A team as well? Regardless: The blood on your hands is thick and coagulated.


Russell Hoffman
Founder and Editor
STOP CASSINI newsletter

----- END OF MY RESPONSE -----

(6) What you can do today to stop the dangerous flyby of Earth:

The hour is very late for Cassini. THIS IS ALSO the most dangerous time -- until the very last few minutes or perhaps, at most the last hour before the flyby (which occurs at an unknown time, probably August 17th for most of the world). THEREFORE, UP UNTIL THE VERY LAST DAY, Cassini should be redirected! It should be redirected away from the Earth's notorious man-made (about 99% manmade, at least) orbital debris field, which goes out about 50,000 miles from the surface of the Earth in ALL directions! Cassini could become a deadly hulk (as can any rocket) just for passing through this mess! If that happens, it would be left, according to NASA's own documentation (page B-4 of the 1995 EIS for the Cassini Mission), in an orbit that could intersect our own! Tell NASA to redirect Cassini TODAY!

To stop Cassini from doing the flyby and other future mad-scientist launches, please redistribute this newsletter to everyone you know! Chances are they have never heard of Cassini, never visited our STOP CASSINI web site, never heard of or considered the effects of the Electromagnetic Pulse that will undoubtedly start a nuclear war if one occurs at all. And chances are good they would not even be able to tell you who played Dr. Strangelove (and two other roles) in the movie of the same name! There is a crisis in education in America and around the world -- you can take it seriously or you can let it kill you. But if we all join together and oppose this impending global destruction, maybe, just maybe, we can convince the powers that be to put down their genocidal toys.

To learn about the absurd excuses NASA used to launch Cassini and its 72.3 pounds of plutonium in 1997, ask them for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini mission, and all subsequent documentation. 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
(818) 354-6478

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:

Daniel Goldin is the head of NASA. Here's his email address: or

Here's the NASA URL to find additional addresses to submit written questions to:


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.

(7) Subscription information

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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
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