Posted 7/21/99 12:35:55 PM

NoFlyby --

	Karl Grossman (
	Jonathan Mark (

                The FORCE Behind Cassini

        The irrational decision to employ plutonium aboard the Cassini space
vessel can be understood only by seeing it in the context of U.S. military
objectives to ring the planet with nuclear-powered weapons.

        For starters, the claim that there was no alternative to the nuclear
option is patently absurd.  By NASA's own figures, had the agency reduced
the space probe's weight a mere 1% – 130 pounds – then it could have used
photovoltaics instead of an extremely radioactive isotope.  NASA's chiefs
opted to launch Cassini on October 15, 1997, with 72.3 pounds (32,8 kg) of
plutonium dioxide -- which could deliver enough plutonium radiation into
Earth's atmosphere to match the entire amount released since the first
atomic bomb explosion.  All to provide the 740 watts needed to power the
craft's electrical equipment.  Such an enormously irresponsible decision
defies comprehension – unless, of course, there were non-scientific factors

        NASA's association with the United States' military seems to hold
the answer.  Much of the reasoning behind the drive for nuclear power in
space can be found in the U.S. Air Force report, "New World Vistas: Air and
Space Power for The 2lst Century."  According to this report, "In the next
two decades, new technologies will allow the fielding of space-based weapons
of devastating effectiveness to be used to deliver energy and mass as force
projection in tactical and strategic conflict.  These advances will enable
lasers with reasonable mass and cost to effect very many kills."  However,
the report notes, "power limitations impose restrictions" on such weapons
systems, making them "relatively unfeasible.  A natural technology to enable
high power is nuclear power in space."

        The agenda suggested in that Air Force report directly repudiates
the spirit and the letter of the 1967 U.S. signed U.N. Outer Space Treaty.
In essence, the U.S. military establishment is suggesting we annul a crucial
international covenant signed by 95 U.N. Member States.  Russia, China and
many other nations must be uncomfortable with such an arrogant and menacing
betrayal of peace diplomacy, and the push for the escalation of the arms race.

        An article in the February 22, 1999 issue of Time magazine headlined
"Star Wars: The Sequel – Hey, what ever happened to arms control? Well, here
comes the new Bill Clinton, Star Warrior."  The article began: "Disregard
previous orders.  It's back to the future after Clinton this month sent
Congress a military budget proposing to pump $6.6 billion into development
of a national missile-defense shield by 2005."

        But "missile defense" is a euphemism, a smokescreen.  As an
examination of Clinton's actual ‘Son of Star Wars' program clearly reveals,
the U.S. military is focused on domination, not protection.  In the TV
documentary, "Nukes In Space 2: Unacceptable Risks," Electronic Engineering
Times editor Loring Wirbel cites a 1998 U.S. Space Command's Long Range
Plan.  This military report describes how the U.S. intends to wield power
from space, taking "over everything between now and 2020 to achieve complete
dominance for the United States alone – no other nations are invited to be

        Wirbel's perspective about this is eloquent and pointed: "America
needs to express its leadership through good works and good examples.  The
more we try to achieve dominance through wielding power and having our own
way all the time, the more we lose the essence of our democracy that makes
us an exceptional nation and the more we move towards this dominance regime,
the more I have to say I'm embarrassed to be an American."

        Behind this campaign for U.S. space-based domination is an enormous
amount of money and force – which of course includes massive influence over
the media.  These coercive factors are driving the use of nuclear power for
even NASA's "civilian" space exploratory missions.

        To pave the way for public acceptance of the nuclear option,
disinformation plays a big role.  For example, NASA has claimed the risk of
catastrophe is minimal – “a one in a million chance” -- despite statistical
data demonstrating that the level of risk of the Cassini Mission failing is
10% to 12%.

        In addition, the agency has also told the public that even if an
accident were to occur, it would pose virtually no danger to the population.
However, according to NASA's own Final Environmental Impact Statement, an
"inadvertent reentry" of Cassini into Earth's 75-mile-high atmosphere during
the flyby would cause the electrical power system to disintegrate,
dispersing the plutonium so widely that 5 billion of the world population
could receive 99 percent or more of the radiation exposure.

        One way NASA has downplayed the potential harm from such an event is
by basing its figures on the cancer-inducing dosage of general ionizing
radiation.  But a NASA-funded project in 1997 showed that a single decaying
radioactive atom produces permanent mutation in a cell's genetic material
that can cause cancer.  (As reported in the Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences, April 1997.)  When the Cassini Safety Evaluation Report
(SER) for President Clinton stated that "several tens of thousands of latent
cancer fatalities worldwide" could result from a Cassini flyby accident, it
even underestimated the danger.  Although the report referred to the 1997
findings, it did not mention the fact that each kilogram of Plutonium
contains trillions of radioactive atoms.  The true picture is that the
number of fatal cancers might be many times greater than the number cited in
the SER.

        What everyone must know is that it is still possible to change
Cassini's Trajectory!

        NASA accelerated the Cassini space probe toward Earth from Venus on
June 24, 1999.  The closest approach to our atmosphere is planned for August
18, 1999 at 3:28 AM GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), at an altitude of about 729
miles (1173 km) and a speed of about 10 miles per second.  NASA has
scheduled three "trajectory correction maneuvers" on July 19, August 3, and
August 11.  Each of the maneuvers offers NASA the chance to do what reason
and conscience demand: direct Cassini as far away from Earth as possible.
The military agenda that underlies this ill-advised adventure, the
development of space-based weapons, must not be allowed to radically
endanger our lives on this planet.  Space, as the Outer Space Treaty states,
should be used for peaceful purposes, "the exploration and use of outer
space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out
for the benefit and in the interest of all countries."


        "In the councils of government, we must guard against the
acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
military-industrial complex.  The potential for the disastrous rise of
misplaced power exists and will persist."

        President Dwight D. Eisenhower

January 17, 1961
Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People


For references and links to NASA, the U.N., articles by Karl Grossman, a
scientific critique by Michio Kaku, accidents in space, solar storm
advisory, "Nukes in Space 2: Unacceptable Risks" TV documentary and much
other information, visit NoFlyby:

NoFlyby also requests that you consider sending your snail and email address
to join the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Farewell Radio and Television Address by President Eisenhower
NoFlyby Action Site Table of Content
The Global Network