NASA's first odds were 1 in 1500. Then 1 in 900. Then 1 in 500.
As of April 11, 1997 they are 1 in 345.  What will they be tomorrow?
There have been 67 known nuclear space missions
between the US and the former USSR. Nine have failed. That = 13.44%. Or 1 in every 7.44.

1) Overall = 1 in 345.    
Our latest odds are 1 in 138.
Latest Las Vegas odds are 1 in 69.

2) Pre-launch T- 48 Hours to T- 0 = 1 in 24,440.

3) Early launch T- 0 to T+ 143 seconds = 1 in  1,590.

4) T+ 143 to T+ 206 Nothing will go wrong (NASA).

5) T+ 206 to Through to the point where Cassini has escaped from Earth orbit T+ 689 = 1 in 450. This is the worst time because at T+ 206 seconds Cassini is already 68.56 miles high and if something goes wrong then it will be like an inadvertent reentry scenirio.

6) Gravity Assist Swingby Earth = 1 in 1,315,789.4  
This is the # the Press loves to (mis)quote, implying it is the overall release #. When 1 in 345 is the #.

7) The overall probability of on accident that could threaten the
3 RTG's or 130 RHU's during the Cassini mission are 1 in 36.

8) Feel Lucky?  NASA has 11 more nuclear space missions scheduled from 1997 - 2009.

9) Remember what the late Noble prize winning physicist Dr. Richard P. Feynman, a member of the Presidential Commission that investigated the Challenger disaster said: "the NASA managers exaggerated the reliability of the Shuttle to the point of fantasy. I saw considerable flaws in their logic.  I found that they were making up the numbers not based on experience. NASA's engineering judgment was not the judgment of its engineers."  

10) Will NASA wait till the wind blows out toward the Atlantic Ocean (away from land and the 2.3 million people in the 6 county region surrounding the Cape) before trying to launch the Cassini mission? The Cassini mission has a 41 day launch window (October 6th through November 15th - with the best time for NASA closer to October 6th) but only 19% of the time (8 days) the wind blows away from land (NW, WNW, W, WSW, SW).  Out of these 8 days probably half, or 4 days the winds will be blowing with the best direction and speed in case of a failure during liftoff with the Plutonium possibly being released. Will NASA wait for one of these 4 best days before trying to launch Cassini?

No They Won't. NASA didn't wait for the 1989
Galileo mission with 49.25 pounds of Plutonium. The winds at the time of launching were from the South at 8 knots. If there was a release of Plutonium, this would have spread it right up the coast. For Ulysses with 25 pounds of Plutonium, the winds were from the East at 14 knots. This is about as bad as it can get, a release would go right back over everyone on land. If there was a high enough release, the Plutonium could maybe even reach Mickey Mouse himself, 50 miles due West in Orlando.

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