Stop the Cassini Fly-by

NASA and the Pentagon are carrying a bad seed into space. Since 1961, they have launched 25 nuclear-laden missions, three of which have met with accidents. In October 1997, NASA launched the Cassini space probe with 72.3 pounds of deadly plutonium on-board. On August 17, 1999 Cassini will return to earth in a fly-by, gravity assist maneuver in order to gain speed for its journey to Saturn. In the event of any technical malfunction, Cassini could reenter earth orbit, burn up, and spread highly toxic plutonium into the global atmosphere.

On June 23, 1997, Dr. Gerhard Strobl stated on German national television that his company, Angewandte Solarenergie, had developed high-efficiency solar cells for the European Space Agency which could have been used to power the Cassini mission. NASA insists that the plutonium generators on Cassini are indestructible. They also maintain that solar power will not work on deep space probes.

The Department of Energy (DoE), which has a spotty record with regard to being honest with the public, is responsible for processing the plutonium and fabricating the nuclear generators for space missions like Cassini. The DoE laboratories throughout the U.S., casting about for a new role as the need for nuclear weapons diminishes, views space as a great new opportunity for their on-going nuclear production work.

During the next 10 years NASA plans to launch many more plutonium missions, including two nuclear reactors for mining colonies on Mars in 2007. In 2003 NASA plans to send a nuclear powered mission called Europa Orbiter to Jupiter and in 2004 another nuclear spacecraft mission called the Pluto-Kuiper Express is scheduled. Presently a nuclear powered rocket, for missions to Mars, is being developed at Los Alamos Labs in New Mexico and at the University of Florida Nuclear Engineering Department.

Just as Columbus sailed to discover a new world, NASA and the nuclear industry view outer space as a new market. "Untold riches" await mining colonies on the Moon, Mars, and various asteroids. The Pentagon plans to send a space armada into the heavens much like Queen Isabella sent in the Spanish Armada to protect the riches of the New World. In the U.S. Space Command document called Vision for 2020, they state that "Space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial national interests and investment in the space medium due to their increasing importance…..Robust capabilities to ensure space superiority must be developed."

And they are being developed, at taxpayer expense! The aerospace industry publication Space News reported in May, 1997 that an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon was tested by the military. "The development of ASAT weapons is part of a larger U.S. effort to achieve space control including the ability to guarantee U.S. forces access to American satellites while denying the use of space to U.S. adversaries," the article stated.

The arms race is moving into space. A key technology necessary to accomplish U.S. Space Command goals to control space (their uniform patch reads Master of Space) is nuclear power. One Air Force document entitled, New World Vistas: Air and Space Power in the 21st Century, spells it our clearly: "A natural technology to enable high power is nuclear power in space; however, this technology has to-date been considered unacceptable due to political and environmental limitations. Setting the emotional issues of nuclear power aside, this technology offers a viable alternative for large amounts of power in space."

Space missions like Cassini become icebreakers. They keep the nuclear laboratories in the U.S. working at full speed. For example, Los Alamos, Savannah River, and Oak Ridge all worked on the Cassini program. These nuclear powered deep space missions get Congress, the public and the media accustomed to the use of nuclear materials in space. DoE is now discussing the restart of plutonium processing at these installations and even the horribly contaminated facility at Hanford, Washington all because they have a "growing need" for space plutonium production.

Now is the time to stop NASA, the military, and the DoE from taking their bad seed of war, greed, exploitation and environmental contamination into space. Help us stop the nuclearization and weaponization of space. Contact us at for more information.

Bruce K. Gagnon

Also, take a look at the No Cassini Fly-By Web-Site

The contents herein are Copyright 1999, Global Network/Bruce Gagnon, the article may be reproduced for non-profit purposes as long as the source is recognised, otherwise reproduction can be arranged through the Global Network.
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