STOP CASSINI Newsletter #76 -- October 7th, 1998

Copyright (c) 1998

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #76 - October 7th, 1998

Sent to: Original distribution is to subscribers, news media, public officials only.


This issue, not surprisingly, is devoted to Mr. Friedman's answer to newsletter #75 and our response.

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

AT 06:43 AM 10/7/98 -0700, LOUIS FRIEDMAN WROTE:

Mr. Hoffman:

I see that you made me the subject of your newsletter #75. Your statement in that newsletter, " Today, his heart is my sole target." certainly gets my attention -- it is an example of the wide polemic paintbrush I cited earlier. I am afraid that you will not win my heart.

If I may briefly address Mr. Haber's comments --

My doctorate and academic (and professional) training is in the field of orbital mechanics. I say this to deal with your charge that my comment is only that of P.R. about the subject of calculable statistics vs. engineering guesses. There have been dozens of flybys of other planets (Pioneer, Mariner 10, VEGA, Voyager, Galileo repeatedly, Earth/Moon system, etc.) without incident. But beyond that the calculable aspect I referred to was the disipline of orbital mechanics which admits to deterministic calculations and statistical studies through both precise calculation and extensive computer simulations. It is not an engineering guess.

I have no connections to the nuclear space industry (never worked for TRW or was in any way connected to them), was the leader (and authored a book) of solar sailing at JPL, and have personally opposed all space weapons promotion and the abrogation of the ABM treaty now being advocated by the space weapons community. My support for safe, responsible, limited use of nuclear power for space missions is based on careful consideration of issues. Like nuclear power on Earth, nuclear power in space has approriate uses that are absolutely enabling. Like nuclear power on Earth we must use it responsibly and carefully.

One can imagine absurb worst case scenarios -- but the arguement fails, reducto ad absurbum. That is the difference between disaster movies and real life.

And of course I cannot prove a negative -- e.g. there is a super secret plutonium source on the Titan IV that exploded and killed lots of people, that only you and a few others know about, because the government hid it so cleverly. I can't prove it, but I also don't think it has received much credibility.

I appreciate your consideration.

Louis Friedman



Mr. Friedman,

Those were my comments, not Haber's. How you can accuse me of a "wide polemic paintbrush" for my comments in issue #75 is beyond comprehension (my target was vanishingly small) -- but so is much of what you've written.

You say now "dozens" of flyby's -- you said hundreds. Just noting that discrepancy.

Engineering guess? What planet are you from, Mr. Friedman? It most certainly IS an engineering guess and I do NOT stand corrected. The orbital mechanics calculations are only one part of the equation to get to the one-in-one-million figure. You know that as well as I do; why you have trouble admitting it is beyond me. Go read your EIS.

I stand corrected if you never worked at TRW, but a full c.v. (which I've asked you for before) would certainly be appreciated so that mistake cannot happen again. How about it? How about one as complete as the one I showed you for Dr. John Gofman in issues #24 & #25 of this newsletter so we know exactly where you get your cockamamie ideas? I'll publish it verbatim if you'll send one over. As to (in the same paragraph) your claim that you only support "safe, responsible, limited" use of nuclear power "based on careful consideration of issues" I'd like to know how you could have carefully considered the hazards of 72+ pounds of vaporized plutonium 238 and yet NEVER had even heard of Dr. Gofman, as you claimed not to have done in previous emails to this newsletter. Your knowledge is purposefully lacking. You can call Gofman any time you like, or Sternglass, or Kaku, or Poehler, or Caldicott, or Morgan, or any of many others. You can learn what the opposition scientists say any time you want, but you don't want to. It would burst your bubble.

As to nuclear power sources "enabling" various missions, perhaps it could, but Cassini wasn't one of them. CASSINI COULD HAVE BEEN A SOLAR MISSION. The Rockey report undoubtedly implies as much, which NASA misused in the 1995 EIS for Cassini. I'm sure you know perfectly well what I'm talking about, and if you've forgotten, check item 2-12(e) of the following and EXPLAIN TO EVERYONE what you base your theory on, that solar could not have been used for Cassini:

You have defamed a lot of very good scientists with your many senseless comments such as the one posted at The Planetary Society web site for years. Nuclear didn't "enable" Cassini and on Earth, you're dreaming if you think it's enabling anything here. It's bankrupting our country, forcing a continued and growing police state, and killing people, and it is also killing science with its hidden this and hidden that and its coverups, obfuscations and outright lies. It enables nothing. Like nuclear power on Earth, nuclear power in space should be used responsibly. It isn't on Earth and it isn't in space thanks to shills for the industry like you.

Calling the possibility of the Titan rocket pile-driving itself into the ground from TWO failures, one of which actually occurred with the last Titan launch, is hardly reaching the point of absurdity. It's what risk calculation is all about. It is simply considering very real "worst case scenarios". Fiction comes from things like warp drive, time travel, hyperdrive, stasis, and so on. THAT's the stuff of movies. Accident strings consisting of TWO events, one of which occurred with the last Titan and the other of which requires only the most simple of failure analysis to admit it's possible, is well away from movie fiction. It's a fact that we came THAT CLOSE to a disaster when the Titan blew up, we came THAT CLOSE to a disaster when Cassini was launched, and having you remain is power is a REAL disaster we are experiencing. You are a censor and a mean-spirited, condescending fool, and the lives of millions are at grave risk because of your unfounded support for the mad-scientist idea that Cassini and missions like it were/are safe to launch. What about the report, recently uncovered, from June 1997 indicating even the interagency review board realized the plutonium canisters could not contain the plutonium in an accident? What about the fact that the 2001 alternative would have meant NO FLYBY of Earth (though I still would have opposed the launch in the strongest terms)? You have no legs left to stand on. Your scientists are corrupt, or you don't have any. Your morals are bankrupt, or you don't have any. And only YOU said anyone said the Titan explosion "killed lots of people". Get your quotes straight -- or are you attempting to libel me? I said there may have been an RTG type device on board -- argue the logic of that statement. I said it may have released SOME plutonium (no one would know how much). I said by now it would have been scattered to the winds and any deaths it might cause will be virtually impossible to detect. No one said anything like what you say I said. You lie, Mr. Friedman, or perhaps you have failed to read what I wrote properly, as you have failed to read so much that has been written in opposition to your creepy schemes and living nightmares. In any event, you owe me a retraction. I did not say what you said I said. No one did.

As for the possibility that the last Titan contained a nuke, it wasn't hidden very cleverly at all. There have been a dozen clues, maybe more. How do YOU explain that? With another of your on-high prognostications, that's how! The evidence is strong that it did indeed contain a nuke. Not that it killed lots of people, you made that part up. Remember, it DIDN'T pile-drive into the Earth, and NASA/MIL made sure winds were out to sea during launch. If any plutonium was released it would have been hard to detect even immediately after the accident, but with your friend (well, he's certainly not mine) Bruce Gagnon leading the investigation, of course, no effort was made to learn the truth during the brief time frame such an effort would have been possible. What isn't credible is the comments of that "project engineer" who called NC-WARN. But who is he? Don't you even care? There is more than enough evidence for a proper investigation of what was on board that Titan. NO, we cannot easily learn the truth, unless you think the military is full of turncoats. We have to look at the signs. The signs are very indicative of a nuclear power source on board that Titan. You're intentionally blinding yourself, man. Open your eyes!

AND speaking of opening your eyes, you still haven't had the good sense to read THE WRONG STUFF, have you? That's one way to hold true to your convictions -- ignore the facts. You do it well, Mr. Friedman.

And one final comment on proving a negative: You better believe it's YOUR job to do that -- you, buddy-boy, are backing a mad scientist plan which can kill millions of people -- I'm not. I back safe and reasonable uses of space in a timely and meaningful fashion. If you really backed truth, the least you could do is help me right the wrong of the misuse in the 1995 EIS of the Rockey report -- won't you show your "true" colors on that one, at least? That misuse alone is worthy of a Congressional inquest. Won't you even join me in demanding truth from NASA?

But no, you want to back something dangerous, full of 400,000+ Curies of plutonium 238. It is therefore up to YOU, not me, to prove the safety of your insane scheme. You cannot do that, but worse -- you don't even try! Your head is screwed backwards, your logic is faulty, your facts are illogical, and your answer is far too brief to actually say much of anything anyway. You don't have the ability to go point-by-point against all the facts we have against Cassini and you know it, so you've refused to do that for years. You don't have the facts to argue with against our side, so you won't present any of the debate to your society's members, you only try to entangle us here, now, on our home turf. You are afraid your members, if presented with the facts our scientists can present, will run from you in droves and back a safe and sane space policy which would bankrupt half the businesses that back you and your organization. Society would gain, because better businesses would move in to take their place, your old-boys network would be crushed if the truth ever got out. The American public would never back the madness of Cassini if given the facts without creeps like you spewing forth your standard lies each time the subject comes up.

Face it, Mr. Friedman, that between the misuse of the Rockey report by NASA, the Titan IVA failure of last month, the Interagency report, and all the known facts about low-level radiation dangers which you ignore, you and your arguments just haven't got a chance.

If you want to begin supporting reasonable space policies for this great country, I'll be the first to welcome you to the smart new universe. But as long as you keep to your lies and fatalistic beliefs (you can't prove your side is right, even if I can't prove mine is -- but at least mine isn't threatening society with 270,000,000,000 lethal doses of anything) then I repeat my claim -- you should resign. Your mind is closed to truth. There is no position for secret science in America's efforts to reach space "for the good of all mankind".


Russell Hoffman
pro-space environmental activist


What follows is an abreviated version of what led up to this exchange. The full text of newsletter #75 is available at the web site at this URL:



This, the 75th issue of the STOP CASSINI newsletter, is devoted to Louis Friedman. A few months ago he blasted off the following email to me:


Russell Hoffman, Editor


Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 06:39:20 -0700
To: "Russell D. Hoffman" (
From: Louis Friedman (
Subject: Re: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #66 May 14th, 1998 "inaccurate information about Cassini" being "widely disseminated"


Your linking India's madness with Cassini stretches all credibility, and does a disservice to many many people who have done much more than you to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, danger of nuclear explosions, and fear and hostility in the world, while at the same time carefully supporting space exploration.

You have a wide polemic paintbrush.

Louis Friedman


Certainly, he will not accuse me of a wide target today. Today, his heart is my sole target.


[Deleted for space (see newsletter #75)...]

-- END OF EMAIL TO LF, etc --


[Deleted for space (see newsletter #75)...]


And note the subtle change as we near the flyby in wording of the odds regarding the flyby failure rate. Here is the way NASA's 1995 EIS for the Cassini Mission refers (on page 4-44) to the odds:

"...a Cassini formal design requirement was imposed to ensure the expected probability of Earth impact does not exceed 10^-6 (i.e., 1 in a million) ... The JPL study was conducted to determine the necessary actions in spacecraft, ground system, and navigation to ensure that the probability of Earth impact would satisfy the design requirement. The study also included a quantitative assessment of the probability of Earth impact, including evaluation of the uncertainties in the assessment process."

(That last part says they even guessed about the accuracy of their guesses, and threw that number in too!)

NASA notes that some of the changes they made by the time of the 1995 EIS to achieve the Mythical Magical Millionth included raising the "minimum Earth swingby altitude" from just 300 km to 500 km. It was later raised again, to 800 km, again to achieve the Mythical Magical Millionth. But notice that NASA was once happy with flying this thing just 185 miles above Earth -- that's an awesomely close shave. They don't care. Friedman doesn't care.

The figure (1 in one million) is commonly referred to as the "Earth Impact Probability" in the NASA documentation. Now, Friedman uses the following phrase:


So now he is changing the meaning of the value (1 in one million) -- or perhaps he doesn't understand it -- saying Cassini might reenter Earth's atmosphere (any time in the next millennium or so) for a variety of reasons, but if it doesn't break up upon reentry it doesn't count. That actually might be better, but it's not correct. But more importantly, it would be much more proper to say "if ANYTHING goes wrong there is less than a one-in-a-million chance of Earth impact". As shown above, Mr. Friedman cannot envision two concurrent accidents, like faulty gyros AND faulty self-destruct mechanisms. So he should not speak of "EVERYTHING" going wrong -- he doesn't appear to even understand two things going wrong. He's out of his league. Higher math bewilders him. Like two and above.

And note as well, that on page 4-104 of the same EIS, NASA states bluntly that "With respect to the long-term inadvertent reentry accident, the performance and behavior of the materials used in the RTGs after many years (a decade to millennia) in a space environment is highly uncertain." So did they assume the worst-case scenario, where the containment system has become brittle and useless? NO! The same paragraph on page 4-104 concludes, "The radiological consequences of a long-term inadvertent reentry were therefore assumed to be similar to (same order of magnitude) those estimated for the short-term VVEJGA inadvertent reentry."

And lastly notice that he really proves himself to be a shill for the entire nuclear industry with his offhand slight against even Earth solar solutions. Earth solar has proven itself time and again, and is way-underutilized as nearly everyone knows, except Friedman. Other underutilized energy solutions include wind, hydro, geothermal, wave, tide and conservation. Just thought I'd mention it.



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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