A Critique of the Cassini Space Shot

Editor-Your Sunday, October 12, report on the Cassini space probe was gastronomically disgusting; my stomach is still turning.

You brush off with a few short words the very real and serious threat to about a billion people posed by the probe's nuclear reactor. By telling us that "protesters" fear the worst while "scientists" deem the likelihood of catastrophe remote you give a highly false impression that dissent comes from a handful of whackos who don't know what they're talking about while "science" is firmly behind the idea of launching over our heads enough plutonium to make the Black Death look a mild case of zits.

Many, many scientists not only think the idea borders on the insane, but several have proven that it is also quite unnecessary. Solar cells and batteries could provide more than enough electricity to power Cassini's computers and appliances, but since well before Star Wars, the Pentagon, the Department of Energy, NASA and plenty of other nitwits in D.C. have been obsessed with putting reactors into space.

Any society that outlaws smoking in bars but says that strapping a good-sized chunk of the most toxic substance ever known onto a fancy bottle-rocket and shooting over our heads is good science seems rather unworthy of whatever data it may (or may not) collect from elsewhere in the solar system.

As for the improbability of disaster: one chamber out of six is pretty remote. How would you like someone to engage your children in a game of Russian Roulette?

San Francisco

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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