Three out of the 26 known U.S. space missions involving nuclear power
have met with accidents, as
have six of 41 known Russian missions. As reported by the Christian Science Monitor on December 17, 1996, these include:
November 1996. The Russian Mars 96 space vehicle disintegrates over Chile or Bolivia. Nearly half a pound (0.23 kg) of plutonium is thought to have been reached the ground.
February 1983. Russian Cosmos 1402 crashes into South Atlantic carrying
68 pounds (30.9 kg) of
January 1978. Cosmos 954 blows up over Canada with 68 pounds (30.9 kg)
of uranium 235.
Three-quarters of that is thought to have vaporized and spread worldwide.
April 1973. Russian Rorsat lands in the Pacific Ocean north of Japan.
Radiation released from the
reactor was detected.
April 1970. Apollo 13 lands south of Fiji. 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg)of plutonium 238 believed to be intact under the ocean.
1969. Two Cosmos lunar missions fail. Radiation detected as crafts burn up in the atmosphere.
May 1968. U.S. Nimbus B-1 lands in the Santa Barbara channel off California. 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg) of uranium 238 recovered.
April 1964. U.S. Transit 5BN-3 hits the Indian Ocean. 2.1 pounds (0.95
kg) of plutonium 238
vaporized in the atmosphere and spread worldwide.
Abstract: If we carefully re-examine, line-by-line, the physics analysis
behind NASA's Final
Environmental Impact Statement, we find that the FEIS has consistently underestimated the possible
risks of an accident with the Cassini space mission. Originally, NASA estimated the number of
cancer fatalities from a maximum credible accident over a 50 year period to be 2,300. We detail
how this figure of 2,300 deaths could easily be off by a factor of 100, i.e. true casualty figures for a
maximum accident might number over 200,000. Furthermore, property damage and lawsuits could
be in the tens of billions. In addition, the FEIS has over- estimated the difficulty of using alternate
sources of energy, such as solar and fuel cells. In line with the new NASA philosophy of faster,
cheaper, better, the Cassini mission should be downsized and made into smaller, more frequent
solar-powered missions to Saturn with less power requirements.
By: Dr. Michio Kaku
Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics
City University of New York
New York NY 10031
Note: This article is also available in a german translation courtesy
of the Netzwerk
Friedenskooperative (Network of the German Peace Movement).
Compiled by the , STOP CASSINI EARTH FLYBY foundation.
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