Notice of Reopening Public Comment Period for NASA Pluto-Kuiper Belt Plutonium Space Mission
June 20, 2002
On June 10, 2002 NASA published the subject notice in the Federal Register reopening the public comment period for their Pluto-Kuiper Belt (PKB) mission environmental impact statement.
Written comments are due before July 25, 2002.
NASA is now considering launching the PKB mission on an expendable launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, in January 2006. NASA also now plans to use a conventional radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) in place of the advanced radioisotope power system originally planned.
Comments should include the following points:
1) Launching of plutonium RTG's is dangerous and in a worst case release could contaminate significant portions of the
environment. Any environmental impact statement must give detailed description of the consequences of such an accident.
Federal Register notice for the Cape Canaveral Pluto Kuiper Belt 2006 mission EIS
June 10, 2002
Federal Register: Volume
67, Number 111 [Notices] [Page 39748-39749]
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [Notice: 02-074]
AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Information update and reopening of scoping period.
The draft EIS will address the environmental impacts associated with launching and operating the mission, the No Action alternative, and other alternatives. This notice informs the public of the revised proposal, reopens the scoping period, and solicits new public comment.
DATES: Interested parties are invited to submit comments on environmental concerns in writing on or before July 25, 2002, to assure full consideration during the extended scoping process.
Written comments should be addressed to Mr. Kurt Lindstrom,
Comments may also be sent by electronic mail to:
Since publication of the 1998 NOI, NASA has revised its original concept for the Pluto-Kuiper Express mission,
renamed the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. As a result of more detailed mission design studies and programmatic evaluations, NASA has determined that launch of the
Pluto-Kuiper Belt spacecraft is not feasible before January 2006, and therefore has eliminated the November 2003 and December 2004 launch opportunities from further
consideration. The January 2006 launch opportunity is now the launch opportunity for the proposed mission. The proposed mission would still require a Jupiter gravity
assist trajectory. The flight time to Pluto with the new opportunity would be 10 to 12 years, with the spacecraft arriving at Pluto before 2020.
The proposed 2006 launch date for the mission also affects potential use of the Space Shuttle, which was proposed in the original NOI as the primary launch vehicle. For programmatic and technical reasons, the Space Shuttle is not proposed for this mission. As proposed, the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission would be launched on an expendable launch vehicle.
Use of an RPS on the proposed mission would be dependent upon full-scale development of a new power conversion
system and qualification testing of the RPS to assure its suitability for long-duration space missions. The development and testing processes would not result in an RPS
that would be fully qualified by 2006 for use on
In preparing the Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission draft EIS, NASA will consider comments from the scoping process initiated by publication of the original 1998 NOI, and any new comments received in response to this notice.
Jeffrey E. Sutton,