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NPR program practically begging for US to make more plutonium-238 — “Supplies running low”

Published: November 9th, 2011 at 9:42 am ET
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The Plutonium Problem: Who Pays For Space Fuel? : NPR

NASA has relied on that fuel, called plutonium-238, to power robotic missions for five decades.

But with supplies running low, scientists who want the government to make more are finding that it sometimes seems easier to chart a course across the solar system than to navigate the budget process inside Washington, D.C. [...]

“Because the United States has access to plutonium-238, we are the only country that has ever sent a science mission beyond Mars,” says Len Dudzinski, the program executive for radioisotope power systems at NASA headquarters. [...]

The pounds of plutonium loaded onto the soon-to-be-launched Mars Science Laboratory represent a significant fraction of a dwindling inventory. “I can’t tell you exactly what that fraction is,” says Dudzinski. “The Department of Energy knows the exact amount of plutonium that we have, and they don’t ordinarily share that number publicly.”

Listen to the report here.

Published: November 9th, 2011 at 9:42 am ET
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31 comments to NPR program practically begging for US to make more plutonium-238 — “Supplies running low”

  • many moons

    What if this spaceship fell back to earth, would all those pounds of plutonium cause injury to anyone? Or perhaps to a lot of people. Just what kind of damage would it do. Seems like these scientists have all the liberties they want without concern for the consequences.

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    • Whoopie Whoopie

      This makes me so angry. What in the hell are they trying to do, kill us? The Nuclear Industry, NASA etc. This proves to me they are planning to move the elite just as soon as possible off this planet that will be destroyed soon.

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      • Sun Rising

        Hi Whoopie

        Sometimes i ask myself as well like you

        _Water fluoridation
        _Asptarme & others
        _Vaccination campaign for false epidemic…
        _Pop Idol

        I ask myself..

        Are they trying to achieve a silent genocide ?

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      • PraisingJesus(Eashoa’ M’sheekha) anne

        The elite won’t be leaving this planet. There is so much radiation in space that no one can survive there.

        Why do you think we have the unmanned space vehicle, X-37B? And we have no more manned space flights planned to the international space station?

        Talk of sending a manned space flight to Mars is just a hoax, a diversion to take people’s minds off the horrible things happening on this planet. This is the only planet we will ever know, elite or not. All the science fiction penned by Hollywood from Star Wars or before and beyond are just fiction to lull the masses from thinking about the radiation from nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, from thinking about the many chemicals in pesticides, our legal pharmaceuticals, and our cancer industry, and in our drinking water and dioxins in plastics, benzene in detergents, etc.

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    • Bobby1

      This actually happened in 1964. General Electric again.

      “On April 24, 1964, a satellite energized by an on-board plutonium system, a General Electric-built SNAP-9A (SNAP for Systems Nuclear Auxiliary Power), failed to achieve orbit and fell from the sky, disintegrating as it dropped.

      The 2.1 pounds of Plutonium-238 in the SNAP-9A dispersed widely over the Earth. A study titled Emergency Preparedness for Nuclear-Powered Satellites done by a grouping of European health and radiation protection agencies reported that “a worldwide soil sampling program carried out in 1970 showed SNAP-9A debris present at all continents and at all latitudes.”

      Long connecting the SNAP-9A accident and an increase of lung cancer on Earth has been Dr. John Gofman, professor emeritus of medical physics at the University of California at Berkeley, an M.D. and Ph.D. who was involved in early work at isolating plutonium and is the co-discoverer of several radioisotopes.”

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    • Mack Mack

      There’s an interesting comment (the 8th comment) on the NPR story about plutonium wreckage falling to Siberia and what happened to it.

      Plus this quote from the article:

      [...]Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., pleaded with his colleagues to reconsider during an appropriations committee meeting. “Does anyone in this room think that we don’t need the plutonium-238?”

      We all need to support politicians who are taking positions against nuclear, and vote accordingly.

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      • (Fukushima FALLOUT?) I have yet to hear ANY politician OR religious leader address this subject in a realistic manner.

        They should be protecting people, yet…

        They are afraid to speak for fear that what they say might not be ‘popular’ and therefore ‘contributions’ and/or ‘donations’ would cease to come in.

        I dare you to ask your local Reverend or Preacher what their thoughts are on the subject. I can tell you what it will be. Little to nothing. One would think they would be the first to speak up, but so far, what I’ve seen, is zero. Regardless of religious affiliation.

        As Montel Williams, (former TV show host), used to say, “Follow the money!”

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        • Mack Mack

          Here are just some of the politicians who’ve taken stands against nuclear:

          Senator Bernie Sanders
          Some of the Vermont Legislature
          Gov. Cuomo wants to shut down Indian Point
          Some of the California Congress
          Gov. Jerry Brown is for renewables
          Senator Mike Gravel
          John Edwards spoke openly against nuclear energy.

          And there are more.

          Anyone in Marin County, California? A candidate named “Norman Solomon” is running for Congress and he was a peaceful protester against nuclear.

          Again, the candidates are out there. Look for them and support them, if you want.

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        • lam335 lam335

          re: “I have yet to hear ANY politician OR religious leader address this subject in a realistic manner.”

          I don’t think I’ve heard any leader address the fallout AT ALL.

          There were a few senators who said plants must be made safer right after the disaster, and they got blasted for reacting emotionally to the situation, and then no more.

          But the fallout is as taboo among politicians as the corium is among TEPCO and Japanese gov officials

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  • Delta II rocket explodes seconds after launch
    There ‘was’ radioactive material on…

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    12 September 2011

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    Delta IV Heavy Mission Anomaly

    Sea Launch FAILURE – explodes on launch pad/reaction
    January 30th, 2007

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  • lam335 lam335

    Sorry, but isn’t this video miscategorized on the first page? Shouldn’t it be listed under US instead of Fuku & Japan?

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  • Johnny Blade Johnny Blade

    I’m surprised they haven’t started using people doing court-imposed “community service” to go out in their blaze orange/flourescent green “D.O.C.” vests with their shitshovels to scrape & collect the crap off the topsoil here in the Midwest if they’re really that hard up for something probably found in abundance now just about anywhere you could think to look now!?!, They just keep coming up with new “legitimate” excuses to turn out more of the crap! At least it’s to be used in space instead of here if there’s anything remotely positive about this non-issue…

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  • VyseLegend

    NASA? Isn’t it about time we defund that boondoggle until we have things figured out down here on Earth? It will happen concurrently with the imminent economic implosion anyway, but I’ll be damned if producing Plutonium is worth it for any purpose really.

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  • dosdos dosdos

    NASA has been slinging mini nuclear reactors into space for almost half a century. Every now and then, one raises a fuss in the news before launch, but most go by unnoticed.

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  • dav8d777

    So we’re just waiting for one of the probes to explode on takeoff, showering Florida with Plutonium….

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  • Bobby1

    The Mars Science Laboratory with 10.56 pounds of plutonium is scheduled to be launched on Nov. 25.

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