November 22, 2005

By Bruce Gagnon


NASA plans to launch 24 pounds of highly toxic plutonium (pu-238 & pu-239) on a New Horizons mission to the planet Pluto.  The launch is set to lift-off on/after January 11, 2006 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  The plutonium will be used in a Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) to convert the heat from the radioactive decay of the plutonium into on board electricity.

We are urging the public (in the U.S. and worldwide) to contact NASA, Congress, and send a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper stating your opposition to this launch.  See contact information below and also talking points to make.  Please help us spread the word by passing this e-mail on to others in your community.  NASA and Congress must hear that the public does not support launching more nuclear materials into space.
Write to:
Michael Griffin
NASA Administrator
300 E. Street SW
Washington DC 20546
(202) 358-0000
U.S. Congressional Switchboard:  (Toll-free number) 1-888-355-3588
Talking Points (Please use your own words when writing your letter
1)  NASA acknowledges in their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the New Horizons mission that there is a 1 in 300 chance of an accident resulting in release of the plutonium.  In the event of such an accident the EIS states that the deadly plutonium could be carried by winds for a 60-mile radius throughout Central Florida.  Clean-up costs for a plutonium accident would range from $241 million to $1.3 billion per square mile.
2)  NASA is moving toward a dramatic escalation in the numbers of nuclear launches in the coming years.  Everything from nuclear powered bases on the moon to nuclear reactors on rockets to Mars.  The Department of Energy (DoE) is now doing a $300 million laboratory expansion in Idaho to produce plutonium for future space missions.
3)  The Pentagon has long stated that they will require nuclear reactors to provide power for space-based weapons.  NASA says that each of its space missions will now be dual use, meaning military and civilian at the same time. The obvious next question is what is the military application for nuclear power in space?
4)  At a time of major fiscal crisis in the U.S. why is NASA using public tax dollars to put the lives of the people on Earth at risk?
5)  Why does NASA not invest in development of alternative space power technologies and move away from the use of deadly plutonium? 
Thank you for your support.
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 729-0517
(207) 319-2017 (Cell phone)

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