Cassini is the only mission currently planned that uses a nuclear electric power source. There are no NASA spacecraft scheduled for launch that use RTGs. An RTG is being considered as a possible power source for an unfunded, unapproved mission (Pluto Express). You may check with your congressional representative if you doubt this.
Mary Beth Murrill
NASA's latest strategy of public disinformation is to deny our allegations that the Cassini 10/6/97 launch is the first of many large plutonium-238 launches, any one of which represents a disaster of potentially global significance. Cassini's 72.3 lbs of plutonium 238 represents 400,000 curies of radiation. Do you believe that NASA's activities will be free of human error from 10/6/97 and far into the next century? They will need to be for the continued viability of earth-bound life whenever plutonium launching is involved.
It is unwise to accept without question assurances of human safety from representatives of the Nuclear Industry no matter what hat they happen to be wearing at the time. There are many examples to illustrate this broad issue of credibility. A few examples are 1. the final report of the President's Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments in connection with the Manhattan Project, 2. the false public assurances broadcast during the Three Mile Island crises, 3. the timely omission in NASA's report to the U.S. media that the Russian Mars '96 came down in a great ball of flames over Chile and Bolivia (not "harmlessly in the Pacific"), 4. the continued lack of government disclosure in regards to exposure to depleted uranium by US troops during the Gulf War. 5.NASA's continued lack of public disclosure of the real safety issues in regards to the Cassini and the future plutonium launches from Cape Canaveral.
Honest disclosure of real human risks associated with plutonium launching, and the requirement of public and informed consent for current nuclear launching activities would shut down a very lucrative business underwritten entirely by tax revenues and, at present, entirely unaccountable to the citizens paying those taxes. NASA would rather gamble with life on this planet than take the chance of having its plutonium launching program shut down: the inevitable result if the public were informed on the real risks involved.
Unfortunately, many "public servants" prefer to hide behind misinformation, comforting lies and inadequate disclosure in regard to the costly business of nuclear proliferation in space. Many feel their operations and large budgets, hidden from public review, are dependant upon nuclear proliferation. Because of present and future dangers associated with their profession, they have a great need for obfuscation to confuse the public. Fortunately, the numbers of groups prepared to challenge their behavior grows daily, worldwide. The world will not be held hostage to the U.S. plutonium launching ambitions: We are certain, whether in the long or short term, these ambitions will lead to international conflict on a level not in the interest of the American public.