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The demonstrators made speeches, sang songs and carried signs with messages such as "NASA puts us all at risk!" and "Even mousetraps malfunction. Is a mini-Chernobyl in our community's future?" in opposition of the nuclear generator being used to power the New Horizons spacecraft.
The protesters say a rocket explosion could expose people, animals and the environment to dangerous doses of radioactive plutonium. Many of the people who gathered outside Cape Canaveral Air Force Station alleged the mission is not just for scientific gain, but also to test the nuclear generator for use in space weapons.
Originally posted by Murcielago
Pluto is so far away how else would we power it? Solarcells are garbage at that distance.
I think Shooter McGavin in Happy Gilmore said it best: "Damn you people. Go back to your shanties".
"We have no problem with the peaceful exploration of space, but we don't think that's what plutonium in space is all about."
Many design changes have been made over the 37 years that RTGs have been used in space missions. In addition to designing larger systems capable of higher power output, DOE has funded research in thermoelectrics and other conversion technologies in order to increase the conversion efficiency. [DOE has also conducted extensive safety testing to assure the power systems would be safe under all accident conditions, including accidents that occur on or near the launch pad, and reentry accidents. The fuel form has been changed from a Pu-238 metal to a more stable pressed oxide. During the three mission accidents that did occur, the RTGs performed as predicted. The Transit 5-BN-3 mission was aborted because of launch vehicle failure. The RTG burned up on reentry as designed with the plutonium dispersed in the upper atmosphere. The RTG design was changed shortly after that to accommodate intact reentry. The next accident was with the Nimbus-B-1 that was aborted shortly after launch by a range safety destruct. The RTG was recovered, with no release of plutonium, and the heat sources were reused in later missions. The Apollo 13 spacecraft carried an RTG to be used on the moon to power a seismic station. The Apollo 13 mission was aborted and the spacecraft returned to Earth. The RTG was attached to the lunar module that broke up on reentry. The RTG heat source reentered the Earth atmosphere intact, with no release of plutonium, and currently is located deep in the Tonga trench in the Pacific Ocean. Extensive testing of RTGs in sea water has been conducted, and there will be no release of plutonium over time from this unit.
Originally posted by mythatsabigprobe
I see lots of ridicule for the protestors and everyone talking up the benefits, but what about the risks?
Has Nasa ever had an accident?
Why yes, I believe they have.
Yes, those too.
Would a nuclear powered probe exploding in our atmosphere cause us some regrets? Damn right..