At this moment, Comet C/1999 Lee (just past the Sun) and the NASA deep space probe Cassini (just past Earth) are both headed towards the same region of space.
Cassini Space Probe
Cassini Space Probe
Similar to the interest surrounding Comet Lee, the Cassini probe has created a flurry of public controversy. This is quite understandable given that it carries 72 pounds of plutonium within it's three Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs).While this nation has build many nuclear powered spacecraft, none has ever carried anything close to this quantity of nuclear fuel.
The facts that I am about to present beg the following questions: "Did our government know about Comet Lee for some time before its official discovery?", and "Does the Cassini probe have an undisclosed secondary role as a 'Kamikaze deep space probe'?"
The title of this article is not intended to be exploitative or scandalous. Rather it is intended to go to the heart of the matter as will be demonstrated shortly. Before doing so, I would like to thank some really talented people.
My first article, Solar Eclipse as Seen from Turkey was first published on August 11, 1999. Soon afterwards, I began receiving an incredible amount of E-mail. There was of course, ample conjecture, opinion and disagreement.
Likewise, there was a lot of mail from curious people like myself, who began looking for information on their own. Without their help the updates to my original article would not have been possible. To these noble seekers of truth I dedicate this new article, with the hope that it can spur an equally dynamic interaction.
As Silicon Valley consultant, I once had the pleasure of working on a satellite project for Lockheed Martin. (It was a civilian version of the famous Cold War KH-1 spy satellite. When an acquaintance, approached a month ago with his concerns about Cassini, it naturally piqued my interest.
Wishing to remain anonymous, he told me that he had gone through Navy training to be nuclear reactor technician, and that he could not imagine any reason why the Cassini probe would need to carry three RTGs with 72 pounds of plutonium.
As he explained it to me, it only takes five pounds of nuclear fuel to power an aircraft carrier for five years, and that it only took three pounds of nuclear fuel to create the Chernobyl disaster. After this conversation, I began tracking information on the probe.
Naturally, what concerned me (as well as many others) was that Cassini would have to slingshot around earth around the 17th of this month.
Given that the space around out planet is filled with more debris than a Sanford and Son junkyard I was really worried. If for any reason the probe reentered our atmosphere (which I'm glad to say it did not do), we could have faced a disaster of incredible proportions.
For this reason, I routinely monitored the NASA home page for updates. On the day Cassini flew by Earth, NASA reported that the probe had successfully completed a flawless maneuver around the Earth and was on course for the outer planets of our system.
The page also mentioned that the probe had arrived at Earth one full day ahead of schedule and that NASA could not explain this. In retrospect, I wish I had saved a copy of the page, as I've never seen that unusual bit of information mentioned again.
I relayed this information to the gentleman who first approached me with his Cassini concerns. He had begun his own research on Comet Lee and told me, . "Now it makes sense. They are going to use it as bomb, to deflect Lee."
In all fairness, that seemed a push to me even though the controversy over the 72 pounds of plutonium was a legitimate concern. "OK," I replied, "I'll dig around and see what I see."
As I mentioned before, I worked on civilian satellite project and I can tell you that the differences between a low Earth orbit civilian satellite and a deep space probe like Cassini could fill pages. However, both craft have one thing in common -- a mission plan. And given my experience, that is the first thing I looked for.
I started with search on the NASA Site, which linked me to the following page: http://ack.arc.nasa.gov:80/ic/projects/ops-sked/Cassini/www-cassini.html
On this page, I clicked on "Cassini Mission Plan," and this is what I got:"Sorry, this Page is Missing!
Hmm... the server can't seem to find the page you were looking for. Please check the case and spelling of the page (if you typed it in directly). It's possible the page has moved or the name isn't quite right.
You can always refer to the main page at http://samadhi.jpl.nasa.gov.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory"
I also clicked on the "General Cassini information provided by the JPL Public Information Office," which returned the error: "address not found." Eventually, I found newer Cassini page but could not find a link to the "Cassini Mission Plan" on it.
At that point, I became in the words of the character Forest Gump, "curiouser and curiouser."
Costing $3.4 billion, the Cassini mission is one of the most expensive ever. Can you imagine how many entitlement programs this could have funded. Yet, does anyone remember a real storm of dissent coming from the liberals in congress?
And, why would NASA remotely think of smashing an expensive space probe like Cassini on lifeless chunk of space rock, just to divert its path with a nuclear detonation?
After all, if the government wanted to boost nuclear weapons into space they could do it whenever they want and we wouldn't know.
Just think back on how many times have you heard about a successful rocket launch or shuttle launch and the news commentator finishes with "…carrying an undisclosed military payload."
The reason the military cannot do this, is the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) which specifically prohibits "space-based ABM systems and their components."
Were the military not restrained by the ABM treaty, there would be three basic technical issues to resolve:
- Targeting Systems: A deep space probe is designed to travel through space, and has extensive navigation, control and maneuvering systems. Literally, these systems are the best of class in every category.
Conventional satellites like the one I worked on, are designed for low earth orbits or to be parked in geosynchronous orbit and are not as well equipped.
- Weapon Yield: According to my sources, if detonated, 72 pounds of plutonium could yield a blast as large as 70 megatons or more.
- Speed and Maneuverability: If you were to view Cassini's path through out system to date, it would remind you of twisted fishing line. Further, it approached Earth at about 35,000 mph. Having finished a slingshot around our planet is presently traveling away from us at approximately 47,000 mph.
Now, let's put this in context. If you get rear-ended at stop light by a truck going five mph., you'll be annoyed. On the other hand, if you're rear-ended by that same truck doing 60 mph., do not be surprised if your gas tank explodes. Likewise, take 72 pounds of nuclear fuel traveling at 47,000 mph. and smash it head-on with a comet.
The title of this story, Is Cassini a Kamikaze Deep Space Probe? Because it draws in part, on the collective WW II experience of Japan and America, with specific regard to Japan's use of Kamikaze squadrons late in the war.
On October 25, 1944, Captain Yukio Seki sealed his fate when led the first Kamikaze attack during the battle off Samos. As he made his attack on the American aircraft carrier Saint Lo, he likewise sealed the fate of the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as you will soon learn.
When it comes to the use of Kamikaze attacks, all WW II historians agree that this desperate effort represent a tragic loss of life for what was a basically a failed military effort given the final results. And, many of those military historians will also agree that Captain Seki's attack also sent an ominous message to our own leadership.
The message to American military and political leaders was very simple, Japan has built and deployed the first prototype "Smart Bombs."
With this in mind, let's use the same three technology issues discussed above: Targeting Systems, weapon yield, and speed and maneuverability.
- Targeting Systems: Today we think of smart bombs in terms of video footage from Iraq and Kosovo. We see lifeless silicon processors similar to the ones we use in our personal computers guiding dumb gravity bombs through windows and doorways. When used as a targeting processor, the PowerPC or Pentium processors can perform this mission with great precision.
However, today's advanced silicon processors cannot hold a candle to the flexible accuracy of a biological targeting processor, such as the human brain. In fact, we have a long way to go before we can build a targeting system as capable as Captain Seki's brain.
- Weapon Yield: The weapons of the day were powerful. A few well-aimed 500-pound bombs could sink any American carrier. Further, this bomb load was well within the payload capabilities of Japanese attack aircraft in use at that time.
- Speed and Maneuverability: This was the Achilles heel of the first Kamikaze squadrons. This is because they flew aircraft that had been designed for entirely different missions roles and were usually too slow to evade American anti-aircraft guns.
Despite the heavy losses suffered by the Japanese during their largely unsuccessful Kamikaze attacks, the American leadership knew that it was only a matter of time before Japanese technology could produce a mission-specific airplane. At that point, the tide of the war could have turned in favor of the Japanese.
One possible candidate for a Kamikaze mission role fighter, was the Kyushu J7W1 Shinden, a single-seat interceptor prototype built late in the war.
This remarkable aircraft looked like something Burt Rutan would build. The Shinden had a maximum speed of 466 mph at 28,545 feet, with a range of 529 miles. It could also reach a service ceiling of 39,370 feet with a 1,200-pound bomb load.
This bomb load could have easily been increased with the removal of the Shinden's armor, and its forward-firing 30-mm Type 5 cannons mounted in the nose of the aircraft.
Given that the Japanese had a virtually unlimited supply of biological targeting processors (such as Captain Seki), all they needed was time to re-purpose the Shinden (or something similar) for the Kamikaze role.
Had they been able to produce a sufficient quantity of fighters designed for the Kamikazi mission, they could have inflicted horrendous losses on America's air and naval forces. Consequently, the war in the Pacific could have ended with a shaky truce as opposed to an unconditional surrender.
Many historians will agree, that the possibility that Japan could develop and deploy a mission-specific Kamikaze fighter was one of the key factors that drove President Truman's decision to use of the Atomic bomb.
If what you've read up till now gives you pause to wonder, then consider the following chronology:
- February 11, 1997: NASA launches the STS-82 mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. The mission is heralded as an unequivocal success and the new imagery is stunning in its detail.
- October 15, 1997: The Cassini probe is launched despite the determined efforts antinuclear protesters. The Cassini spacecraft was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard an Air Force Titan IVB/Centaur rocket.
- August 2, 1999: Comet C/1999 Lee is sighted by Reinder J. Bouma of Groningen in the Netherlands after completing is perihelion (closest approach) to the Sun, eight days earlier than NASA had originally predicted. Also, the comet was seen in the early morning hours today and was also reported to be a magnitude of 6.8, which is greater than NASA's predicted 7.2 magnitude.
- August 11, 1999: The first possible sighting of Comet Lee during the full eclipse over Europe is reported by the Millennium Group. It appears that Comet Lee may have fractured.
For those of you interested in the predictions of Nostradamus, the Paulus' book, "Nostradamus 1999 -Who Will Survive," explores the possibility that an Earth threatening comet will be discovered during this eclipse, and that something in the tail of the comet will impact the Earth.
In this book, Paulus examines quatrain: C3 - Q34: "When the eclipse of the Sun will then be, In broad daylight the monster will be seen: Everyone will differ on the interpretation, High price unguarded: none will have prepared."
While the prophesies of Nostradamus are contriversial, it is interesting to note that the Nazi and American propaganda machines made heavy use of his prophecies during World War II.
- August 17, 1999: The Cassini probe reaches Earth one full day ahead of schedule and successfully completes a slingshot pass around Earth at a distance of 727 miles (1,171 kilometers) from our planet.
Perhaps, President Clinton has found himself in a situation similar to that of President Truman, which begs the question: Mr. President, what do you know; when did you learn about it; and what are you doing about it?
The Millennium Group