The Action Site to Stop Cassini Earth Flyby
P.O. Box 1999, Wendell Depot, MA 01380

NoFlyby Newsletter No. 15

May 31, 1999

What's New at NoFlyby !

It is getting closer to 24 June 1999 when NASA plans to execute the plutonium Cassini space probe's "flyby" of Venus to begin its trajectory toward Earth. Now is the safest time to change course.

We urge you to help us and expose the major risks of sending rocket ships near or through the air we breathe with significant amounts of radioactive plutonium on board.

Visit the NoFlyby Action Site at

This communication is posted at


"Nukes in Space 2, Unacceptable Risks" (29 minutes) is a video documentary that tells the story of the Cassini plutonium-fueled space probe. It won the Silver Award at the 32nd annual WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival -- the largest film festival in the world, with over 4,300 entries from 33 countries. Festival Director, J. Hunter Todd, said, "Nukes in Space 2 is a tremendously important film that reveals the terrible truth of our nation's folly."

Please respond to the call for actions on Saturday, June 12, 1999, in support of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. These organizations have announced plans to hold a demonstration at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on that day to demand the cancellation of the planned August 1999 Earth fly-by of the Cassini spacecraft.

Three successive Titan 4 rocket ships since Cassini's launch have had serious mishaps. Since they were military launches, much of the information about these is classified: Most important, the public has not been told whether radioactive plutonium was on board and dispersed into our environment.

The NoFlyby Action Site is a resource of information and a call for people to wake up and see what is behind Cassini -- the development and deployment of space-based nuclear weaponry for the U.S. dominance of outer space. Such a goal is a threat to everyone. The NoFlyby website offers links to new scientific studies that show conclusively there is no safe level for Plutonium exposure.

According to a recent letter by Dr. John Gofman, who in 1942 led the "Plutonium Group" at the University of California, Berkeley, which was the first to isolate a milligram of plutonium from irradiated uranium, "...just one decaying radioactive plutonium atom can produce permanent mutation in a cell's genetic molecules."

NASA still has a choice: it can either ignite the booster rockets on June 24 for the swingby of Venus that would hurtle Cassini toward our planet Earth or it could reprogram Cassini to go in a safer direction.

Directing the Cassini probe toward Earth could not come at a more precarious time. There's a distinct possibility that Cassini's communications systems will be fried by one of the periodic solar eruptions scientists are expecting between now and 2001. During the high point of the last solar flare cycle, for example, a solar eruption blew out the electrical power for more than six million Canadians.

If Cassini reenters Earth's atmosphere at the expected speeds of ten miles per second, practically all of the 72.3 pounds of plutonium dioxide on board would be released in a breathable form, potentially causing millions of cancer fatalities over the next 50 years.

Why risk such a possible consequence with a substance that would remain for countless generations?

For other important references, check out the NoFlyby bibliography

May 27, 1999
Russia Blasts US on Missile Defense
Filed at 9:36 p.m. EDT
By The Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia today accused the U.S. Congress of threatening world stability and encouraging another nuclear arms race with its efforts to develop an anti-ballistic missile system.

"This step is a direct challenge to strategic stability and international safety," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On May 21, the U.S. House of Representatives sent President Bill Clinton a Senate-modified bill that would commit the United States to a limited anti-ballistic missile defense system. Clinton is expected to sign it.

Moscow is fiercely against the plan, which it says would violate the U.S.-Soviet 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. That agreement blocks either country from developing an anti-missile defense system.

Though the United States says the latest proposal is aimed at defending U.S. soil from rogue states like North Korea, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Congress' move "cannot be judged as anything but another step aimed at undermining the ABM treaty."

"The United States, with its actions concerning ABM, is stimulating the creation and proliferation in the world of more sophisticated rockets, capable of starting a new arms race," the ministry said.

China has expressed similar concerns about the U.S. proposal.

Is Cassini Safe? May 23, 1999
Report Reveals Lax Computer Security at NASA


WASHINGTON -- A Government investigation into NASA's computer security found it so vulnerable to attack that hackers could easily disrupt command and control operations, including the tracking of orbiting spacecraft.

The General Accounting Office said this week that its teams also penetrated systems that processed and distributed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's scientific data and broke into many of NASA's most vital networks.

"Having obtained access to these systems, we could have disrupted NASA's ongoing command and control operations and stolen, modified or destroyed system software and data," said the report from the accounting office, the investigative arm of Congress.

NASA officials said they agreed with many of the accounting office's findings and were working to improve security, but they contend the report may have exaggerated.

Working with NASA personnel, the accounting office arranged in the last year to have National Security Agency experts try to break into NASA systems. They picked systems at one of NASA's 10 field centers, and entered "using easily guessed passwords," the report said.

Among the report's findings:

Facts about Cassini's Plutonium
compiled by Hans Karow,
Coordinator for the Cassini Redirect Coalition

Hans Karow,
Dipl. Ing., S 32 C 6, Bauass.]
RR # 1 Oliver BC Canada VOH 1TO
Tel./Fax (250) 498 3135

The Cassini deep space mission to Saturn must be redirected to avoid its planned high risk Earth fly-by this year on August 18. Although a safe alternative solar technique was available instead of the use of Plutonium, NASA ignored worldwide warnings. Here are some facts about Plutonium (Pu) that everybody should know about: Pu was plentiful on Earth when it was first formed. Life did not appear on Earth until the Pu had decayed to Uranium. Pu, almost entirely a human-made element, is a radioactive and highly toxic substance. Pu was first isolated by Dr. John W. Gofman in 1942, who headed the Manhattan Project's Plutonium Group, when the first milligrams were needed for the Manhattan Project.

Once it enters the body through inhalation, ingestion, or through a cut, it becomes an internal emitter that emits highly destructive radiation to the body tissue in which it concentrates. It is akin to an internal X-ray machine. When lodged within tiny airways of the lung, Pu particles bombard surrounding tissue with alpha radiation. Smaller particles may break away from larger aggregates of the compound to be absorbed through the lung and enter the bloodstream. Because Pu has properties similar to iron, it is combined with the iron-transporting proteins in the blood and conveyed to iron-storage cells in the liver and bone marrow, inducing liver and bone cancer, and leukemia. Pu's iron-like properties also permit the element to cross the highly selective placental barrier and reach the developing fetus, possibly causing the development of abnormal structures in an embryo resulting in a severe deformed fetus and subsequent gross deformities in the newborn infant. Pu can also migrate to the testicles and ovaries where it can cause genetic mutation to be passed on to future generations. Once Pu is deposited in the lung, there is no way to remove it from the lung and there is nothing that medical science can do to reduce the risk of lung cancer.

No quantity inhaled has been found too small to induce lung cancer in animals. It also has been found, by any reasonable standard of scientific proof, that there is no safe dose or safe dose-rate of ionizing radiation, meaning there is no safe threshold. It has been estimated that even only one pound of Pu-238, if uniformly deposited in the lungs of the world's population, would be enough to induce lung cancer in everyone on Earth.

In the event of Cassini's accidental atmosphere re-entry during its planned Earth fly-by, or any other time due to a loss of control and subsequent random collision, its 72.3 pounds of Pu would get vaporized into invisible particles and spread as a dust all over the world. Even though over four tons of Pu-239 were released during atmospheric nuclear bomb testing, Cassini's 72.3 pounds of Pu-238 would carry more radioactivity than all the Pu-239 from the bomb tests, since Pu 238 is 280 times more potent than the bomb grade Pu-239 isotope. Pu-238 will be radioactive over more than 800 years (14% of Cassini's Plutonium consists of Pu-239, being radioactive for over 240,000 years, although somewhat less toxic than Pu-238).

If Pu is released into the environment, there is no way to stop its radioactive decay. As it decays, it produces the highly dangerous alpha radiation mentioned above. Pu cannot be destroyed by any means. Pu does not disappear in the environment. It is not water-soluble. As a dust it easily becomes airborne. Once dispersed into the environment it can mix with organic substances forming compounds that can enable it so be taken up in bodies of all live species: plants, animals, and humans.

A Pu particle constantly produces radiation - and can harm any living, whether human, animal or plant, that it enters, also meaning as many times as it changes its living host. If someone were to die of lung cancer induced by Pu and were cremated, contaminated smoke might carry Pu particle into someone else's lungs. If an animal dies or is killed, its meat may be eaten by other animals or humans. Or it rots and its poisoned dust could be scattered by the wind and inhaled by other creatures.

Cassini's 72.3 pounds of Pu seems to be an unimportant small amount, however, assuming all vaporized Pu particles are of the size of invisible 1,000,000,000 atoms-particle, there will be about 163 particles per square meter Earth surface (including water surface) awaiting all living on Earth to be absorbed over and over again for thousands of years. In case of an inadvertent re-entry, Cassini is an environmental and human right assault that makes everything that has come before trivial by comparison: WW I, WW II, Gulf War, Kosovo, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hussein, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, name any human-made disaster!

Cassini's Earth fly-by error has been calculated at 10% (compared to NASA's guessed "one in a million"). The high risk Earth fly-by must and can still be best prevented this coming June 24.

How? See


Contact the White House every Wednesday between now and June 24

The White House opinion line phone number is: (202) 456-1111

President Clinton

Director of NASA, Dan Goldin

Please help us break through the censorship in the media.
NoFlyby will send a copy of Nukes in Space 2 for review.

Karl Grossman was recently published in the June/July issue of Extra! Magazine "The Phantom Menace: Space Weapons Aren't on Media Radar"


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