Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, ME, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure. We must all do more to help stop this western corporate arrogance that puts the future generations lives in despair. @BruceKGagnon

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


My friend Maria Telesca from Rockledge, Florida led the protest on behalf of the Global Network at the gates of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last Saturday. Maria, the mother of two children, has been by our side at space center protests for almost 20 years. She lives in the launch danger zone and is clear what would happen if there was an accident and plutonium release from a NASA mission like New Horizons. The launch will carry 24 pounds of radioactive plutonium and is set for lift-off on January 17.

Maria reported extensive media coverage of the protest and told me that the striking Boeing workers, who normally would prepare the Atlas launch rocket, are still on their picket line near Cape Canaveral's gates. Maria, and the other protestors, walked over after their rally to talk with the striking union workers. She told me the Boeing workers are still warning that the management strike breakers, now doing the rocket preparations, are not qualified to carry out the task. Rumors persist about fuel-tank leaks and further delays in the launch date.

The pro-space web site ran part of our news release on their web site announcing our protest and since then I've had about 25 (mostly nasty) e-mails from folks. Here is a sample from one of them:

"First I just want to say, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So
here's mine... Ok Your organization is to protect the environment, animals,
people, and the planet. Well one day the earth might not be here, we have
all heard about comets, and asteroids, black holes, supernovae, and such.
Putting earth in harms way, it is in man kinds future that that we leave this
planet behind, being its destroyed, or plain uninhabitable, seeing as how
we’ve damn near used every mineral this planet has to offer, but it is with
nuclear power, and ion drive that we can achieve space travel beyond our
moon, beyond our solar system, to find a new home. NASA is here to help...
let them do their work, help man kind survive, and understand this complex
universe we live in..."

This was one of the milder ones.

I do understand the desire to explore space. But if in doing so we endanger life on this planet after a space nuclear accident then what have we accomplished? For those who say it won't ever happen - that NASA has taken all the safety precautions necessary - well it has happened! Here is a list of past space nuclear accidents.

NOVEMBER 1996: Russian Mars ’96 space vehicle disintegrates over Chile and Bolivia, likely spreading its payload of nearly half a pound of plutonium. Searchers found no remains of the spacecraft which was believed to have burned up. Eyewitnesses saw the flaming reentry over the mountains in the region.

FEBRUARY 1983: Soviet Cosmos 1402 crashes into South Atlantic ocean carrying 68 pounds of Uranium-235.

JANUARY 1978: Cosmos 954 blows up over Canada with 68 pounds of Uranium-235 and other nuclear poisons, much of which is thought to have vaporized and spread worldwide.

APRIL 1973: Soviet Rorsat lands in the Pacific Ocean north of Japan. Radiation released from the reactor was detected.

APRIL 1970: Apollo 13 lands near New Zealand with the 8.3 pounds of Plutonium-238 believed to be still in the spacecraft at the bottom of the ocean floor.

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 with 4.2 pounds of Uranium-238 but was recovered by NASA.

APRIL 1964: U.S. Transit 5BN-3 hits the Indian Ocean with its 2.1 pounds of Plutonium-238 vaporizing in the atmosphere and spreading worldwide. Dr. John Gofman, Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Cell Biology in the University of California at Berkeley studied the 1964 accident and believes it is a major contributor to the increase in cancers around the world today. Gofman co-discovered protactinium-232, uranium-232, protactinium-233, and uranium-233.

So this is what motivates our protest against the launching of plutonium on rockets that blow up from time to time. It does not take a rocket scientist to understand that space technology can and does fail. Mix deadly plutonium into the equation and you are asking for trouble.

Help us by calling NASA and tell them to cancel the New Horizons mission. Contact:

Michael Griffin
NASA Administrator
300 E. Street SW
Washington DC 20546
(202) 358-0000


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