STOP CASSINI Newsletter #181 -- August 31st, 1999

Copyright (c) 1999

STOP CASSINI Newsletters Index

To: Subscribers, Press, Government Officials

From: Russell D. Hoffman, Founder and Editor

Re: Points of Reference: STOP CASSINI #181

Date: August 29th, 1999

This Issue's Subjects:

(1) A reasonable explanation which still raises more questions than it answers:

In yesterday's STOP CASSINI newsletter (#180) we presented a huge discrepancy in the various numbers for Cassini's speed as reported in the various media. Jonathan Mark of the NOFLYBY web site ( ) was kind enough to immediately reprint that item in his own newsletter, where Kai Petzke in Germany saw it, and Kai responded with an explanation which makes a lot of sense, namely, that NASA's Bob Mitchell (whom we contend nevertheless is a liar on many issues!) was giving the speeds relative to the sun (72,000 miles per hour coming in, 80,000 miles per hour going out), whereas the "42,300 miles per hour" speed is the speed relative to the speed of Earth (Cassini and Earth are both moving in an orbit around the sun). Readers of the STOP CASSINI newsletter have always been most interested in the flyby speed relative to Earth, and that was the one quoted in nearly all news reports which came out prior to the flyby.

Of course, none of the reports mentioned what their speeds were relative to, and one would certainly think that during a flyby, the relative speed to Earth was the interesting thing for nearly everyone, including, for example, those who might have gotten a chance to actually see the bird, which NASA had said might be possible. So who they were writing for and talking to when they said 80,000 miles per hour is still a question -- not Earthlings! Sunlings, I guess.

Kai's explanation still leaves a number of probing questions:

1) When did they start talking in Sun-relative speeds and stop talking in Earth-relative speeds?

2) What WAS the speed (relative to Earth, of course) of the probe at the point of closest approach?

3) Why do the speeds given vary by thousands of miles per hour anyway?

4) What thruster burns, in addition to the TCMs (Trajectory Correction Maneuvers) were done to ensure that the flyby height and speed was exactly "on the money"?

5) Why -- and this is still the most important question -- why was the flyby "point of closest approach" originally published as being near Africa, then moved to over the South Pacific without any explanation -- and when was it changed, and was it by decision or because things just worked out that way, and once they changed it to being over the South Pacific (the world's favorite nuclear dumping ground), did they fire the thruster at any time other than the previously announced "TCM's" in order to maintain the position over the South Pacific and have the flyby accuracy be "inside an acceptable margin of error" as the CNN report put it?

"NASA's most expensive unmanned spacecraft arrived within two miles of its target and six-tenths of a second late -- all inside an acceptable margin of error."

In other words, we are asking who set the "margin of accuracy" and did they risk firing the thruster (always a more dangerous maneuver than NOT firing the thruster) just to have the flyby appear to go super-smoothly, even though NASA themselves didn't really care, but they wanted it to look good for the media?

These and many other questions remain unanswered.

-- Russell D. Hoffman

(2) Cassini speed discrepancies partially explained:

Here's the letter from Jonathan Mark, containing Kai Petzke's letter to Jonathan:


At 09:32 PM 8/31/99 -0400, Jonathan Mark wrote:

To: Russell Hoffman
Subject: Re: Cassini flyby speed discrepancy

hi russell,

info on speed from kai..


Date: Tue, 31 Aug 1999 20:56:47 +0200 (CEST)
From: Kai Petzke
To: "Jonathan M. Haber"
cc: NoFlyby Feedback
Subject: Re: Cassini flyby speed discrepancy

Hallo Jonathan,

speed is always a relative figure. One can look at the speed versus earth - or the speed versus sun. Earth travels on its orbit at an average of 66,900 mph. Cassini came from behind at an angle - at 72,000 mph relative to sun. Relative to earth, this is much less, because Earth and Cassini travel both on circular orbits around the sun in the same direction. So the 42.300 mph figure (speed relative to earth) is probably correct. If a crash had occurred, only the relative speed of 42.300 mph would have been relevant...

A similiar ambiguity applies to the quote of the speed change. This is, because Cassini changed both its direction and its absolute speed. You can calculate the speed change as the vector difference of the two speeds involved - or as the absolute difference. Think of a car going in one direction at 25 mph and doing a U-turn. In case of the "vector difference", the speed difference would be 50 mph, because the car is now driving in the opposite direction. On the other hand, the car is still driving at 25 mph after the U-turn, so the absolute speed change is zero!

There is even more ambiguity, because Cassini got faster during approach to earth and then slower again. The quoted 42,300 mph relative speed to earth are for the point of closest approach. So it could have been 35,000 mph before.

Well, I could do all the maths, but I don't have much time right now...

A couple further comments are below:

"The spacecraft approached Earth at about 72,000 mph. Because it zoomed past in the same direction as Earth's orbit, it got a speed boost via what is called the 'gravitational slingshot effect' and sped away at about 80,000 mph."

Probably right.

This is an 8,000 mile per hour difference,

Yep, probably right.

but the speed boost was about 12,000 miles per hour (5.5 Kilometers per second),

Those 12,000 miles were most likely relative speed change (vector)

Prior to the flyby, NASA had been saying the speed would be boosted to somewhere in the low 40's in thousands of miles per hour,

low 40's = relative speed to earth.

not nearly as
fast as 80,000 miles per hour.

80's = relative speed to sun

But there has to be an explanation, doesn't there? Speeds don't change like that overnight. (Cassini took nearly two years to gain the first 40,000 miles per hour, for instance!)

Cassini was launched from earth, which travels at 66,900 miles per hour. Because Cassini's first stop was Venus, the launch vehicle (the Titan IV) had to accellerate Cassini away from earth in the opposite direction of the earth's orbital movement, so that Cassini was a little bit slower than earth after launch. Because of that, it fell towards sun, eventually reaching Venus. So Cassini started at approx 65,000 miles per hour. It then gained around 4,000 mph on each Venus flyby and 8,000 mph on the earth flyby. Those figures sound reasonable to me.

At this web page today, August 29th, 1999:
NASA gives the current speed of Cassini as 133,158 kilometers per hour. The conversion factor to miles per hour is .6214, so that would convert to a speed of a little over 81,000 miles per hour, about what your article suggests. Bob Mitchell at NASA is quoted giving the same values in other media articles (see below). (Anyone clicking on that link any time in the next 15 months or so from today (August 29th, 1999) will get a lower number (until Cassini gets close to its next "victim" planet -- Jupiter, on its way towards Saturn) because right now Cassini is slowing down a little bit each day as it travels away from the Sun.)

Yep, that's correct.

At this web page the BBC gives their figures, which are close to the ones I expected to see, although 46,000 mph is a good deal faster than 42,300 mph (though it might not seem so to the average person): "The effect of the Earth's gravity is expected to boost its speed from about 56,000 km/h (35,000mph) to more than 74,000km/h (46,000mph)."

This quote is probably due to a journalist doing bullshit calculations: The speed of Cassini relative to earth was 35,000 mph before AND after the slingshot. The 12,000 mph speed change - relative to earth - is only like a car doing a turn. However, during that turn, Cassini has been moved more towards the direction, that the earth is moving. Therefore, with respect to sun, Cassini has actually gained speed.


Kai Petzke --
Kai Petzke, Inst. fuer Theor. Physik, If you don't like
TU Berlin, Sekr. PN 7-1, formulas, then this web
Hardenbergstr. 36 page is made specifically for you!
>10623 Berlin


----- MY RESPONSE -----

Hi Jonathan!

Thanks for sending me Kai's comments. They make sense to me. The JPL statement gave the speed change as 12,000 miles per hour, while Bob Mitchell gives it as 8,000 miles per hour, but neither number has any reference point (let alone different ones) such as Kai is assuming. Bob Mitchell is quoted in Space Chronicles as saying "The spacecraft approached Earth at about 72,000 mph..." which says one thing even if he means another.

I wonder how many reporters had any idea what the numbers meant since they aren't explained in the articles?

-- Russell D. Hoffman

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

We again want to thank Jonathan for forwarding us Kai's comments.

(3) Letter from Dr. Horst A. Poehler to Scientific American:

Of course, readers of the STOP CASSINI newsletter are expected to feel that NO nuclear launches should be done at all, anywhere. A 100-year moratorium is our official stand at the moment. (Which is not to say those feeling differently are not welcome to read these newsletters too!)

But even though we feel we are writing for people opposed to nuclear launches who want to know what is going on and what they should try to do to stop NASA and the military, we nevertheless know that many people honestly feel that, well, they are going to do it anyway no matter what we try to do to stop them.

And that, so far, has most certainly been true! But it begs the question: Are they (NASA and the DoE and so forth) actually concerned about the risks to human health from these things? Or do they simply deny the obvious in every way, shape, form and substantive matter that they can think of? I suspect the latter. That is preposterously unscientific. It is preposterously inhumane. It is preposterous to think that they have any idea what they are playing with when they won't even do what Dr. Horst Poehler is calling for in the letter shown below.

Dr. Poehler is a retired IEEE lifetime member, a former NASA contract engineer, and as frank and open, honest and forthright a human being as I have ever met. So naturally it would take a person of the caliber of Dr. Poehler to ask the following questions. This letter (shown below) arrived here by mail just recently but was written soon after the launch:


Satellite Beach, FL

August 20th, 1999

Letter to the Editor
Scientific American
415 Madison Ave.
NY, NY, 10017


Considering the questionable armoring of the plutonium RTG cannisters, the planned launch of the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) on Europa Orbiter, Pluto-Kuiper Express, and the Solar Probe from Cape Canaveral (in case of failure at launch) would expose 500,000 Florida inhabitants living within 50 miles of Cape Canaveral to cancerous plutonium. Plan instead to launch these rockets from the sparsely-populated French launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, South America, or the remote Russian Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan, greatly minimizing the number of people exposed. REFER to "Cassini Cancers":

Horst A. Poehler, Ph. D.


Dr. Poehler's article continues to be one of the most popular items at the STOP CASSINI web site and deservedly so. It includes a more detailed biography of Dr. Poehler as well as being excellent and important reading.

Our own comments to SCIAM were presented in newsletter #173, available at our web site of course:

(4) Two official government quotes about the Electro-Magnetic Pulse

Readers of the STOP CASSINI newsletter know that we have been saying that a nuclear EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) in the upper atmosphere could wipe out the Internet and all our computers and hospital equipment, AND cause all the nuclear power plants to melt down, and ruin many other things, in a matter of mere fractions of a second.

Here are two quotes regarding this fact, one from 1999, the other from a 1992 document. It is amazing that people like J. R. Nyquist (of ) apparently still doubt us on this matter (he hasn't told us different), but we'll keep bringing quotes like this to our readers as we find them, until the whole world understand how stupid nuclear war really is:


Congressman Curt Weldon, May 18th, 1999, speech:

Quoting Vladimir Lukin, Chairman of the Duma Committee of Foreign Relations, Late April, 1999

"You have to understand that if we want to cause you a problem over this we could. Someone, we don't know who, could send up a missile from a ship or a submarine and detonate a nuclear weapon high over the United States. The EMP would take away all your capabilities."

(Reprinted in IEER (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) Science for Democratic Action, July, 1999 Volume 7, #4.)


The above was relayed to us today by Pamela Blockey-O'Brien. Coincidentally, within an hour before her phone call, I was moving my copy of Volume One of SPACE HANDBOOK: A WAR FIGHTER'S GUIDE TO SPACE (which I have not actually read, but I've skimmed it several times without finding anything interesting) when it fell open to the following quote, which most certainly IS interesting:


ANTISATELLITES. While the Soviets were getting their ASAT system going, the US ASAT, Program 437, was falling on hard times. Back in 1962, the Starfish High Altitude Nuclear Test released sizeable amounts of radiation into space. This radiation, trapped by the Earth's magnetic field, created artificial radiation belts 100 to 1000 times stronger than background levels and damaged a number of satellites. The conclusion reached from this experience was that if Program 437 was ever used in anger, it would destroy friend and foe alike. Compounding this problem, the Soviets put up so many military satellites that there were too many potential ASAT targets. Also, there were major funding cuts in the program due to the Vietnam War [the insanity of the idea in general seems not to have occurred to them -- rdh]. To make matters worse, the Air Force was simply running out of Thors. Therefore, in October 1970, DOD moved Program 437 to standby status as an economy measure. Thirty days were now needed to prepare for an interception, which totally destroyed the system's credibility as a weapon."


The above publication quoted was prepared by Major Michael J. Muolo, Air University Air Command and Staff College, compiled by Major Richard A. Hand, and edited by Majors Hand, Bonnie Houchen, and Lou Larson. Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, 36112-6428, December, 1993. (The publication was "reviewed by security and policy review authorities and is cleared for public release" meaning of course, it might be bogus!) The section just quoted was footnoted as having come from Curtis Peebles, Guardians: Strategic Reconnaissance Satellites, Navato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1987, Pages 92-94.

-- rdh

(5) Newsletter index no longer blocked at #150, explanation still unknown:

It pays to pay attention. It appears from our web site statistics from our Internet Service Provider, that our web site is no longer blocked or delayed at newsletter #150, and the webring creator, a high school student opposed to Cassini, has stated in a letter to us that he was NOT responsible for whatever the problem was although he may have changed the pointer from the home page to the newsletter index itself. We have asked him to contact to find out why the problem we described in newsletter #174 may have occurred and hope to have an explanation some day (hope springs eternal).

Of course, we won't be surprised to find the site access blocked at #180 for a while now, as well!

(6) Y2K and Nukes: A new opportunity for abuse seized!

The STOP CASSINI newsletter will not be renamed after all. We will, however, create a new newsletter This does mean people who want it will have to subscribe separately, but we haven't decided on a name and we'll send out a separate notification to our subscribers as soon as the time comes for Issue #1 (or maybe we'll send it out as a sample).

The reason is because then we can keep the STOP CASSINI newsletter active for when Cassini-related events occur.

The focus of the newsletter, whatever it is called, for the next FOUR MONTHS will be the Y2K-nuclear issue, which is urgent. We strongly urge EVERYONE to subscribe to the Y2K-nuclear forum run by Paul Swann , where we have posted, for example, a debate between the editor of this newsletter and Peter de Jager, of .

People who don't like me anyway will probably enjoy reading the debate tremendously (or rather, would, if de Jager had won in the end, which I sincerely doubt!)

He calls me, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly, "hysterical", "ranting" "socially irresponsible", he claims some of my Y2K fears are "bogus", "Machavellian" (sic --the proper spelling is "Machiavellian" but I guess his computer spell-checker wasn't working this morning -- but hey, computers fail, and computer users fail, but why worry?), "not reasonable", "generating fear to achieve a hidden agenda", and even "stupid". Needless to say after that, I took my gloves off and responded with somewhat more emphasis and concern (and less love) than in the two letters that proceeded his tirade against me.

The bottom line is, of course, that I'd have say Peter de Jager doesn't seem to like this editor very much. I'm not sure what I did to tick him off -- maybe it was saying "Your view does not put things in perspective" -- but such stuff doesn't warrant his outrageous attack! Anyway, it was quite exciting and we'll post it at our Y2K web site soon, and it's available at the Y2K-nuclear forum now. Certainly, de Jager has been unmasked as a placating fraud who CAN'T put things into perspective. He reminds me of Dr. J.A.G., who needs no further introduction to most of my readers.

(7) What you can do today to stop NASA's nuclear madness:

NASA needs to be told in no uncertain terms NEVER to launch nuclear rockets of any type ever again!

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.

(8) Subscription information

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Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Written in U.S.A.
Please distribute these newsletters EVERYWHERE!
What you do NEXT matters MOST OF ALL!
Even the smallest step forward helps. Really it does.
May God bless you for your help.
May there be a God to bless you for your help.
May the world be here tomorrow to receive God's blessing, because you helped.
Thank God (and the DoD) for the Internet!

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