March 10, 1999
Mr. Roy Bridges
Kennedy Space Center
Dear Mr. Bridges:
This letter is to request a meeting between you and representatives of our organization to discuss our opposition to the now planned August, 1999 Cassini fly-by.
As you know, we have been organizing in opposition to nuclear power in space since before the launch of Galileo in 1989. During the time since then we have seen three plutonium launches and now understand that there are NASA plans to launch at least eight more of these kinds of missions, including the 2003 launch of the Europa Orbiter and the 2004 launch of the Pluto-Kuiper Express.
We are also aware that NASA is now preparing for nuclear powered mining colonies on Mars in the year 2007 and we understand that Los Alamos Labs and the University of Florida Nuclear Engineering Department are working on a nuclear rocket to Mars. In fact the Department of Energy (DoE) is now taking an internal review of its plutonium 238 production requirements and operations in the U.S. because they say that the need for more plutonium due to expanded use of nuclear power in space is pushing them to their limits. Plutonium production facilities in Idaho Falls, Idaho; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Hanford, Washington are now being evaluated for re-opening in order to handle the growing need for space nuclear power. As you probably know, all of these sites that previously produced plutonium for nuclear weapons use, have been either shut down or scaled back due to a reduction of need and because they were causing serious environmental degradation with radioactive releases and contamination. If DoE re-opens these facilities for plutonium production due to NASA requirements, people who once thought that they had made some progress in beginning to shut down and clean up will be upset and blame NASA and the space program for new radioactive pollution in their beleaguered communities.
We are deeply concerned that the expansion of the use of nuclear power in space will come back to haunt all of us if there were to be either a launch accident or a fly-by malfunction as does happen from time to time. Already we have heard that NASA lost contact with Cassini for several days. What if that were to happen again at the time of the dangerous Earth fly-by this August?
Of course we are also troubled about published statements by the U.S. Space Command that say they intend to take military "control of space" and that nuclear power would be used to provide the tremendous amount of power needed for space based weapons.
We enclose for you a list of Space Objectives and Demands that we are currently circulating around the world. We are asking groups, churches, and concerned citizens to discuss these in their local communities as a way to engage the public in an open dialogue about the kind of seed that NASA and our government should carry into space.
We would hope that our meeting with you would serve to give us both an opportunity to discuss these important issues and we would ask that you pass on our concerns to those who give you direction.
We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible with a positive response to our request for a meeting. We would be available at any time that will be convenient for you.
We thank you in advance for your cooperation.
For peace in space,
Bruce K. Gagnon Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space
OBJECTIVES & DEMANDS FOR SPACE
- Apply space technology to social and environmental needs here on Earth
- Explore alternative technology paths for space power and propulsion
- Solve problems on planet Earth instead of creating new imbalances and conflicts in space
- Prevent confrontation, enhance international cooperation in space
- Ban space weapons and space military installations by national and international laws
- Avoid oversized, costly and risky space projects
- Ban the use of nuclear power in space
- Encourage and foster global democratic debate about space exploration and colonization
- Strengthen existing international space laws that call for collective use of celestial bodies