Re: SPACE: Cassini Mission Consequences

Paul Hager (
Mon, 22 Sep 1997 10:41:43 -0500 (EST)

It seems to me that there are two issues here and I've only seen one
discussed: the hazard associated with a failure. I've already posted my
view that the Plutonium hazard is virtually non-existant and that the most
dangerous thing about the probe would be its kinetic energy. Despite the
fact -- and I consider it incontrovertible -- that the opposition to
Cassini is driven by junk science and hysteria, the opponents do have one
compelling argument on their side: they are being made to pay for this
mission against their will.

I accept as a given that if Cassini provides any data at all, it will
benefit the human race. However, although governments are good at quick
and dirty projects and sometimes fund useful science, for the most part
politics governs decisions. Science, by its nature, must be free and open
but even the most benign government bureaucracies tend toward their
opposite. "Big" science as practiced by government bureaucracies is
wasteful and inflexible. It is true that planetary exploration is
CURRENTLY expensive and it APPEARS that only a government can fund it.
But, if there is ever going to be an expansion of humanity beyond the
Earth, we will have to get the government out of the picture -- market
forces will yield solutions that will reduce costs and open up
possibilities for exploration and exploitation that will dwarf anything
that government bureaucracies are likely to produce.

So, the Cassini opponents, in their neo-Luddite way, actually have an
important point to make and it behooves us to give it due consideration.
I think the issue should be how government can effectively privatize space
-- in other words, how quickly government can get out of the picture.

paul hager

"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason."
-- Thomas Paine, THE AGE OF REASON