STOP CASSINI Newsletter #107 -- March 14th, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

Subject: Another one bites the dust -- STOP CASSINI #107

Date: March 14th, 1999

Time Frame: There are only 102 days left until the last appropriate moment of redirection of the Cassini probe - the flyby of Venus, 7 weeks before the flyby of Earth.


I am now approximately 10 newsletters behind, but will try to catch up as quickly as possible. This morning's NOFLYBY newsletter indicates now that Rosin, who said we should all forget about Cassini, claiming there are bigger fish, and Gagnon, who reportedly had left the movement entirely, and Haber, who reported it to us, have all joined together over at Haber's NOFLYBY site. All interested parties should subscribe to their newsletter as well as to mine. They may (?) all be frauds, but they represent the "voice of the activist's movement" to the government, so everyone (that they allow to) had better work with them as much as possible and try to ensure that the scientists get heard in any public forums they sponsor.

Russell D. Hoffman, Founder and Editor

Today's Subjects:

From the mailbag: Impossible or just highly unlikely?

Jim Spellman is President - California Space Development Council and Executive Director - NSS/Western Spaceport Chapter. His letter is uncut, with answers interspersed.


At 04:05 PM 3/4/99 EST, Jim Spellman wrote:

In a message dated 3/4/99 3:28:45 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes: If the probe "skips" atop the Earth's atmosphere for a while before completely reentering, then we can expect a full release.


Have you ever considered in any of your "worst case scenarios" (if they were to even happen; I've seen no concrete evidence at present to support your contentions; the probe's still doing O.K., still on it's proper course and heading just as the JPL flight controllers and mission planners had crunched the numbers) that if Cassini were to suddenly do a 180 -- completely disregarding the laws of Sir Issac Newton -- and turn into an uncontrollable suicidal robot run toward the Home Planet (rare chance, but unlikely), it could very well "skip" off the Earth's atmosphere and basically be bounced away from Earth?

Hardly a 180. More like a 1. The "skip scenario" is the first accident, as the probe moves away from missing us and towards hitting us. In other words, the least "off" the probe can be, AND STILL IMPACT US, is exactly this "skip" scenario. Less of a passage through our atmosphere, and the pieces will continue on past Earth (remaining, however, in an orbit which tends to be near ours). More of a passage through our atmosphere, and we have a full reentry. So I don't really even understand this reliance on "odds". We should not be gambling people's lives. That's not science. Science does not throw dice (at 42,300 miles per hour). Science does not play Russian Roulette with millions of people's lives.

Reentry windows are pretty fickle: hit it too steep (your contention) and kabbloowee, you're a crispee critter. But, hit it too shallow, and you skip off, almost certainly never to return.

Yep, it's that 8,000 mile diameter planet (and it's ~75 or 150 mile atmosphere) that's the problem. As to the phrase "almost certainly never to return" that is not how NASA puts it (page B-4, 1995 Cassini EIS), "Failures on legs targeted towards Earth or Venus would tend to result in spacecraft trajectories that remain in the vicinity of Earth's orbit." What you are describing "skip[ing] off", is the result of an accident which happens during the leg targeted towards Earth (resulting in the partial pass through our atmosphere) hence according to NASA's own documents, that would leave it in a bad place, hardly as reassuring as your description implies.

Aren't the odds of your doomsday scenarios remotely occurring just as astronomical as NASA's says it won't? Where's your concrete *proof* that it *will* occur, *exactly* (or even closely) as you're predicting?

I am offering possible scenarios. The question is not, where's MY proof, for I can be totally wrong, and nobody (but me and my pride) gets hurt. NASA, however, must be more than just right -- they must be lucky. Only chance protects them from all possible hazards, which is why their EIS minimizes the apparent risks as much as possible. Certainly, I emphasize them. But I most certainly do not make them up. These risks, and the disaster they threaten, are quite real regardless of any mythical abstraction about "odds" and "chances". There was no reason to risk so devastating an accident for absolutely ZERO real scientific gain. Zero gain, because the mission or ones just as good could all be accomplished with solar technology.

But to specifically address your comments, as we get closer to the actual moment, the odds approach more and more NASA's mythical millionth, and at some point, a few minutes, perhaps a few hours, perhaps even a few days, the odds will undoubtedly actually surpass NASA's own one-in-one-million number. FOR THAT PARTICULAR PASS BY US. This even I acknowledge, and why shouldn't I? Physics is physics and is very hard to argue with.

But it's such a simplistic number, though! NASA' mythical millionth ignores all sorts of possibilities. Probes go dead for no known reason more often than once in a million -- over the next four months, that is, up to the moment of the flyby, and even beyond, according to NASA's own 1995 EIS (page b-4) the probe would "tend" to be in an orbit which would "remain in the vicinity" of our own! So, I do not think it is proper to simply compute the mathematical chance of the probe "disregarding the laws of Sir Isaac Newton". It is much more appropriate to wonder if perhaps NASA is attempting to "disregard the laws of Mr. Murphy."

I want to believe you, but I think that extreme skepticism is in order.

I'm as skeptical as they come, Jim! Thanks for writing!



From the Mailbag: Letter to NASA by Richard Wilcox:


Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 21:04:20 +0900
From: Richard Wilcox (
Subject: copy of letter sent against Cassini/Nasa etc

[copy of a letter sent to NASA]


FROM: Richard and Tamae Wilcox (US CITIZENS)

#103, 1-17-8 Nishi Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 170-0001 JAPAN


We are writing to urge you to CANCEL the scheduled Earth fly-by of the Cassini spacecraft later this year. This mission is fraught with danger because of the 72 pounds of plutonium which Cassini carries on board. NASA itself admits that it has no idea (it guesses a "one in a million" chance of failure) of what might really happen and contrives an arbitrary estimate as to the possibility that Cassini might crash into the Earth's atmosphere, spreading plutonium throughout and potentially contaminating millions of people and/or other species.

Furthermore, the unholy alliance of NASA, the DOE and the US military is in violation of the spirit in which NASA was originally intended-- to explore space for the virtues of science. The US obsession with Star Wars technology (which President Clinton has recently allocated more funds to) is a dangerous, imperialistic, violation of international law and human rights. The US's plans to dominate space with lasers and nukes of various types is completely insane, and we are totally opposed to these goals which are explicitly elucidated by top military officials (for example, see the carefully documented book by Karl Grossman: "The Wrong Stuff", Common Courage Press).

To start with, the Cassini mission should be canceled before there is a catastrophic accident (and NASA has [had] plenty of these, [you] don't need a PhD in astro-physics to know that much). Future missions should be planned without the use of plutonium or nuclear technology and should be planned for peaceful purposes, using solar power-- not for the militarization of space or a taxpayer funded program to mine distant planets for the benefit of high-tech and heavy (eg., mining) industries.

We know that NASA's propaganda explains away the risks of nuclear space missions as being in the interests of science, when in fact there are specific business interests being served in the military-industrial sector who will benefit from these flights. Average people will hardly benefit from these flights, nor will future generations of humans and other species if their environment here on Earth is contaminated with nuclear pollution due to the insane, arrogant policy of an unaccountable bureaucracy and government (in collusion with a lapdog press).

For further information, I suggest you access the STOP CASSINI website ( Russell Hoffman has assiduously defended the integrity of our (USA) democracy and exposed NASA for being a corrupt bureaucracy which is in radical need of reform.

Thank you for your time in this matter,

Richard and Tamae Wilcox, Tokyo (Richard is a registered and active voter from the state of Michigan)

citizens of the US, Japan/US, (and the planet Earth!)


Thanks for the compliment, and most of all for the effort! Here's a relevant quote from National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, As Amended:

"Section 102 (a): The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind"

From the These Things Just Kinda Happen Department...

Here, the team from WIRE gets a bit unraveled from the loss of their "s/c" (spacecraft). I hope the Cassini team has practiced writing letters like the following, but they had better be sure to include some might strong apologies for killing people as well, if their s/c fails and impacts Earth.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 04:02:00 -0800 (PST)
From: Carol Lonsdale

Dear friends and colleagues -

We're all rather in shock right now. We've lost the mission catastrophically.

While the s/c was still tumbling early after orbit insertion, the telescope cover apparently came off; it wasn't supposed to till day 3. Our best guess at present is that somehow it fired when the secondary cryo vent was opened. The expected coning (spinning describing a cone) got worse and failed to respond to maneouvers designed to slow it. We hypothesize not that the cover was off so the coming allowed some earthlight at least (maybe sunlight too) into the barrel of the 'scope. This warmed the cryogens at a high rate (we saw evidence in some of the temperature readings), which in turn outgassed through the vents and started spinning the s/c up. At this point it is spinning at over 15 rpm and there's no hope of slowing it because that's beyond the power of the magnetic reaction wheels. Thus the batteries will slowly die (the solar arrays are not pointing to the sun) sometime tomorrow, and the cryogens will boil off within another day or two.

A last ditch attempt to save things was tried by deliberately sending a cover off command, hoping the cover was in fact still on and the ejection would counteract the spin. We saw no change in the temperatures, confirming our sad theory. The focal plans have been turned on temporarily and we now have images that confirm that they are alive but are looking out. The earth limb is seen to go by. Data to collect information on radiation behavior of the arrays will be salvaged for a short while.

Please join with me in commiserating with the superb WIRE team, here at IPAC, also at JPL, SDL and GSFC. Here at the SOC they've been a terrific team to work with, down through the long years of preparation to this awful night. We're so sorry to greet you with this dreadful news after such a happy celebration last night. Our thanks to all of you for your support of us through thick and thin. We couldn't have done it without you.


Wm. A. Wheaton
Infrared Processing & Analysis Center
California Institute of Technology
M/S 100-22
770 So. Wilson Ave.
Pasadena CA 91125

626/397-7104 fax 626/397-9600


Do I need to point out that Cassini can be lost at any time, and that if that happened TODAY, that would leave in it an orbit which would "tend" (NASA's word, page B-4 of the 1995 EIS) to "remain in the vicinity of Earth's orbit"? We probably need to point it out to somebody. Somebody at NASA, JPL, Caltech, or Washington, that is. Also, a wire service news report on the incident says NASA hasn't yet completely given up on the spacecraft. Hope springs eternal. -rdh

Reuters reports hackers have control of a British satellite

As if there wasn't enough wrong with NASA's assessment of Cassini's risks, terrorism in space has raised its ugly head. Our local paper (San Diego Union-Tribune) reported on March 4th, 1999 that "Hackers have seized control of one of Britian's military communication satellites and issued blackmail threats, THE SUNDAY BUSINESS newspaper reported."

The article also reports that "the satellite's course was changed just over two weeks ago. The hackers then issued a blackmail threat, demanding money to stop interfering with the satellite."

If a British military satellite can be hacked into, what guarantee have we that Cassini's trajectory cannot be maliciously altered as well? Exactly none!

The Fox has been assigned to study the henhouse:

Really, I don't know which to be more scared of! Hackers breaking into space systems, or biased and agenda-ridden space agencies helping to set up the rules of future behavior for space exploration!

In an article in SPACE NEWS, March 8th, 1999, we are told that "The European Space Agency (ESA) and the United Nations' Educational, Social and Cultural Organization have agreed to make a joint study into how spacefaring nations should behave as they explore new worlds."

A bit late for that, don't you think? (ESA is a prime contractor for the Cassini mission.)

Anyway, the article continues, "The one-year assessment will be used to help guide ESA practices in such areas as minimizing debris left on other worlds following scientific missions."

Well a bit late for that, too! And who is guarding Earth's own orbital area, which is now filled with billions of particles of space debris from previous spacefaring nations' madness?! No one! And who is guarding Earth's own citizens from plutonium debris created by so-called scientific missions, which are in reality nothing more than a front for the creation of military space nuclear capabilities? No one!

And who helped write and agreed to the current International UN treaties which are nothing more than imprecise permission to fould earth and space with plutonium krap? The same foxes now asked to help the U. N. again!

Official Department of the Navy Censorship being done -- carefully

The U.S. Navy has nerves of steel -- and hearts of lead (or maybe D.U.)

Long-time readers of this newsletter may recall that I made a presentation before three stone-faced representatives of the United States Navy at a public hearing in San Diego, California last fall (1998) regarding homeporting of nuclear aircraft carriers in San Diego. I told my readers that as soon as the Navy transcribed and answered my comments I would present both the comments and whatever answers there were, here.

We are still waiting, and it now appears that we may have to wait forever! Here is a letter received by Laura Hunter, the Director of the Environmental Health Coalition. It indicates that my words, and the words of scores of other concerned citizens will be censored from public record and public view.


And if mine go, will yours be far behind?

Please write IMMEDIATELY to Tonya Concannon, Director, Installation Management, Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities) to DEMAND the full publication and answering of the comments made by the many free United States Citizens who spoke during the hearing!


INCOMING LETTER TO "EHC" (transcribed)

Department of the Navy
Office of the Assistant Secretary
(Installations and Environment)
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, D. C. 20390-1000

(Stamped Mar 4, 1999)

Ms. Laura Hunter
Environmental Health Coalition
1717 Kettner Blvd, Ste 100
San Diego, CA 92101

Dear Ms. Hunter,

Thank you for your letter of February 16, 1999, requesting a meeting with Secretary Danzig regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Developing Home Port Facilities for Three NIMITZ-Class Aircraft Carriers in Support of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. I am responding for Secretary Danzig.

I would like to clarify any confusion there may be over re-issuing this DEIS. As stated by Mr. Shinal in his letter of 28 January 1999, only after reviewing the comments received from the public on the DEIS will the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Installations and Facilities) decide whether or not it is appropriate to publish a second DEIS or to address the public comments in a Final EIS. As evaluation of comments is not complete, this decision has not yet been made.

The process established by the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) provides ample opportunity for all interested parties to express their views and comment on the analysis prepared by the Navy. I understand you have participated in this process and thoroughly explained your concerns through written comments. I want to assure you that your written comments will be carefully reviewed prior to continuing the NEPA process.


Tonya Concannon,
Director, Installation Management
Office of Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy
(Installations and Facilities)


It is clear the United States Navy, not content to fight wars only on foreign shores, is attacking its own citizens with environmental assaults and then ignoring even our pleas for so much as an explanation for their outrageous behavior. It is further clear that that particular meeting, which was attended by roughly 300 interested citizens and during which numerous difficult and important questions were raised, will be treated as if it did not happen. The Navy will decide if the questions are worth answering!

Well, I was there, and I can tell you, the Navy does NOT have any good answers to many of the questions we posed. It is to avoid making public fools of themselves that they wish to avoid answering our statements, and no other reason.

I hope everyone will demand of the Navy answers to the legitimate questions its bosses -- the citizens of the United States -- have raised. To quote A. T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783, page 8: "There are a number of [strategic] questions to be decided, covering the whole plan of operations throughout the theater of war. Among these are the proper function of the navy in the war; its true objective; the point or points upon which it should be concentrated; the establishment of depots..."

Wandering Chernobyls which are a constant threat to peace and stability, which cripple the economy and bankrupt our health -- or vice - versa, are the antithesis of why we have a navy at all. And then, they censor us!

[NOTE: The editor has received (in March, 1999) a transcript of his remarks which will be presented in an upcoming issue. Still no word on a response, though... -- rdh, April 5th, 1999]




CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!!!!

To Cancel Cassini start by asking NASA for the 1995 Environmental Impact Statement for the Cassini Mission and all subsequent related documents (on paper, please!). Tell them you need it IMMEDIATELY (members of the world press should do this too). All citizens of the world are ENTITLED to these documents because of the global threat Cassini poses. Here's where to get information:

Cassini Public Information
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena CA 91109
(818) 354-5011

Tell them Russell Hoffman, founder and editor of the STOP CASSINI newsletter, sent you. I bet they love to hear that!

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. At least, ask them one specific question: How many letters did they get opposing Cassini today? (And tell them you oppose it too!) If each reader asks them that...

Here's NASA's email address:

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:

(Note that it looks like possibly a temporary URL assignment, but you can always start at

They imply at the web site that written comments are more likely to get answered -- quicker than emailed comments! Someone should welcome them to the 1990's before it's too late.

Long time readers know lots of questions to ask them! Ask them why they don't link to our web site. Ask them why they haven't got rid of Daniel Goldin, the glassy-eyed fool. Ask them why they haven't sent you YOUR copy of the 1995 EIS for the Cassini mission! Ask them anything, but demand an answer! 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.


Please send any news directly to the editor at the email address given below.

Please post these newsletters EVERYWHERE! You can -- and should -- send them to news media too! Please tell your friends and neighbors and Internet buddies to subscribe! These words can have power, but only if they are passed on to many others!

Thanks for reading,

Russell D. Hoffman

Founder & Editor
STOP CASSINI Newsletter -- nearly 100 issues of mirth, merriment, and mind-numbingly depressing facts about NASA and other horrors


I don't know how it is in your country, but in our country, at least we have this:

Amendment One... "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble..."

Written in U.S.A.

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