Oct. 4 rally plans to cancel Cassini space probe
September 1997

On Saturday, July 26th, over 250 people gathered at the gates of the Cape Canaveral Air Force base to protest NASA's scheduled launch of the Cassini space probe which, if launched, will carry over 72 pounds of plutonium into space.

This gathering was the culmination of a week-long vigil by a dedicated group of activists who kept an around-the-clock-vigil at the gates to demonstrate their commitment to stopping the launch of Cassini and to the nuclearization and weaponization of space.

NASA has much larger plans for nuclear-power vehicles in space and is planning many missions in the coming decade that will put humanity at risk of an eventual launch-pad accident and further build-up of nuclear weapons in space.

On October 4th an international demonstration is being called to stop the Cassini launch at Cape Canaveral. Organizers are preparing all means necessary to stop the launch of the plutonium-fueled probe, including climbing over the perimeter fence and sitting on the launch pad. Recently, the cancellation of a Delta rocket launch because a shrimp boat accidentally entered a danger zone illustrated how vulnerable to disruption space launches are.

Leading the organizing to stop the probe is the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice (FCPJ) which has been working on space issues for almost a decade.

The efforts of Coordinator Bruce Gagnon illustrate what a concerted group of organized individuals can accomplish over a long period of time.

Gagnon explains, "I think we underestimate ourselves. I think we all underestimate how much we can achieve. One of the things I don't think we do enough of is act like a bulldog and stay on something. We work on something a little while, we live in a McDonald's culture, we want drive-in window success, and when we don't get it, we get frustrated and we go home and we quit. We move on to something else that appears hot. Well, to really build something that gets hot, you've got to do the leg work. I've been on this issue for ten years, I've been on Cassini for three years like a goddamn bulldog. And there were many days when I couldn't get people to return my calls. But you just stay on it, stay on it, stay on it and I think one staff person with a very meager budget, I'm very proud that our organization has shown that you can pull something off. I think all of us could do more effective jobs if we really made the effort and really had more of a long-range vision about what we're trying to accomplish. And I think all of our work would be much more valuable and have more pay-off in the long-run."

If you want to participate in the demonstration on October 4th, you can attend the Southeast Friends of Reclaiming meeting on Saturday, Sept. 13th from 6-9pm at the Florida School of Massage (6421 SW 13th St). There will be a discussion about the demo, a showing of "Nukes in Space," and sign-up sheets for transportation to the demo along with other activities. If you can't attend this meeting, there will be sign-up sheets located at the Civic Media Center at 1021 W. University Ave. Organizers are asking for $5-10 sliding scale to help with transportation costs. Low/no income individuals will be accommodated. For more info call the SE Friends of Reclaiming at 377-0753 (Cindy) or 496-3369 (Ginger).

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