Interplanetary Trajectory
October 6,1997-June 25, 2004

"A bizarre and insane-sounding scheme"

On October 6, 1997, NASA plans launch its experimental nuclear-powered Cassini space probe on a 7-year trip to Saturn. Carrying 72.3 pounds of plutonium 238, Cassini is 10 blast off aboard a Titan IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Florida. The satellite will go first to Venus, fly around it two times, then hurtle back toward Earth in what NASA calls a "flyby." Utilizing the Earth's gravity for the special "sling-shot" maneuver, the craft with be shot into deep space. Cassini will be traveling at 42,300 miles per hour as it catapult past Earth, only 312 miles above the surface.

NASA has a record of past radiation accidents, with no need for the experiment and safe power available, Cassini is absurd.

Cassini's Tentative Schedule:

Cancel Cassini !

Help Stop NASA's "Plutonium Roulette"

On October 6, 1997, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, NASA, intends to launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida its Cassini space probe carrying 72.3 lbs. of deadly plutonium-238. The Plutonium is to generate electricity for Cassini's onboard electrical instruments during it's lengthy voyage to Saturn.

In what Seattle journalist Geov Parrish calls "plutonium roulette" and "a bizarre and insane-sounding scheme,"

NASA has chosen to power Cassini with plutonium, rather than use available power systems. NASA is rushing its Cassini mission to Saturn when a five-year postponement would allow for a safe solar-powered mission.

The Cassini Mission

The $3.4 billion Cassini Space Probe is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian space Agency.

A malfunction within the Earth's atmosphere could cause the "most toxic chemical known to science" to "shower down with a tremendous tragedy for the people of Earth," according to City University of New York nuclear physics professor Dr. Michio Kaku

NASA itself in its June 1995 Final Environmental Impact Statement for Cassini that, "In the unlikely event that a [Cassini] inadvertent reentry occurred, approximately five billion of the estimated seven to eight billion world population at the time of the swingbys [sic] could receive 99% or more of the radiation exposure." (2) NASA guesses that perhaps 2,300 could suffer health effects as a result. (3) Inhaled plutonium particles can cause lung cancer, leukemia, liver cancer and bone cancer. Ingested particles can cause intestinal cancer and particles on an open wound eventually can cause bone cancer.

The space agency says that the odds of a disaster are "less than one in a million." However, Dr. Kaku says, "Those numbers are a scientific fraud." (4) Before the space shuttle Challenger explosion, NASA had estimated the risk of a catastrophic space shuttle launch failure as 1 in 100,000; after the accident, NASA's estimate was revised to 1 in 76.

Cassini's plutonium "radioisotope thermoelectric generators," (RTGs) pose a risk of spreading cancer both at launch time, and later when it flies back around the Earth in the "slingshot" or flyby maneuver being planned by NASA:


1) "Stop using Plutonium in Space," Global Response, G.R. No. 3, 1997, Boulder, CO. (303) 444-0306,;

2) Final Environmental Impact statement for the Cassini Mission, NASA, June, 1995, p. 4-76;

3) David Chandler, "Hot Spot": Mars 96 failure renews concern about plutonium carrying spacecraft," The Boston Globe , Dec. 9, 1996;

4) Ibid., n. 3;

5) Ibid., n. 1;

6) Ibid., n. 1;

7) Dr. Karl Grossman, "Nuclear menace in Outer Space," commentary, The Baltimore Sun, Dec. 8, 1996;

8) Marilyn Meyer, Risks of plutonium launch debate," Florida Today, May 21, 1995;

9) Ibid., n. 8;

10) European Space Agency, "New Solar Cells with record efficeincy," Press Information Note, No. 07-94, Noordwijk, Netherlands, April 29, 1004;

11) Just Peace, newspaper of the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, Vol. 15, No.1, p.6;

12) Press release, June 25, 1997, Florida Coalition for Peace And Justice;

13) Geov Parrish, "How NASA could doom life on Earth this October, Eat the State!, Seattle WA, June 17, 1997;

14) "Self-destructive Rocket," The New York Times, January 18, 1997, p. A7;

15) Ibid., n. 3

16) "Lab contamination rises: Alamos cites NASA project," (AP), The Denver Post, July 30, 1996.

See also: Dr. Karl Grossman, "Risking the World: Nuclear Proliferation in Space," Covert Action Quarterly, Summer, 1996.

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