The Action Site to Stop Cassini Earth Flyby

P.O. Box 1999, Wendell Depot, MA 01380 (978)544-7862

Dr. Daniel S. Goldin

NASA Headquarters
Washington, D.C. 20546-0001
Tel: (202)358-1010
Fax (202)358-2810

October 20, 1998

Dear Dr. Goldin:

I hope you will read this letter and consider the information at our website. The NoFlyby site includes an extensive bibliography and documents showing without question that radioactive plutonium pollution is harmful to life. So far there have been nine known space program accidents releasing plutonium into our environment. NASA's planned swingby of the Pu-238 laden Cassini space probe, less than a half a minute away from Earth's atmosphere is clearly dangerous and irresponsible. We realize this expensive mission was initiated before you received your position at NASA. However, the flyby, which has the potential of the causing the most harm of any civilian space mission in known history, is only months away. Why? Why are knowledge and learning about our origins and other scientific matters so important that NASA scheduled this record-speed Earth flyby to endanger the health of billions of people, even if there is a one in a million chances of an accident?

Please consider Dr. Earl Budin's attached report, "Why the Cassini Flyby Must be Omitted." The report shows medical literature on the carcinogenic nature of plutonium and information from the Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panel on Cassini. This group of five high level federal government officials, including a representative to NASA, submitted this report to the Clinton Administration in July 1997. The Safety Evaluation Report (SER) for Cassini was unknown to the public and legislatures until Dr. Earl Budin discovered it recently. In contrast to NASA's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which claimed that the Plutonium containers could withstand the heat of an atmospheric entry at such a high speed, the SER notes it would not survive and that nine kilograms of Plutonium might be released in tiny particles. Their estimate of possible fatalities is ten times higher than that reported in the EIS, according to the SER fatalities could be in the tens of thousands.

I agree with the fifteen members of Congress who wrote to President Clinton before the Cassini launch, "...While we have much to learn through the exploration of space, in this instance the grave potential danger posed by the plutonium on the probe would seem to outweigh the potential benefit from this mission. It is too important to squander the public's trust on such a risky mission. A NASA that all Americans can support instills hope for the future, not fear of tragedy..." This is even more true considering the report that the plutonium containers would not survive an accidental entry into our atmosphere. Please, knowing this information, please reconsider the risks vs. the possible benefits of this 2004 Saturn exploratory mission. Please cancel the Earth flyby of Cassini before its June 24, 1999 final swingby of Venus and the probe races toward Earth. Everyone who ventures in space claims how lovely and unique our planet is in our solar system, why even take a one in a million chances to do such harm to the air we breathe?


Jonathan M. Haber