The shuttle Columbia appears to have been carrying nuclear material, material which is now spread all over Texas and elsewhere. How much material was on board? Unfortunately, NASA is about
the last place you'd look to get a straight answer, but we can piece together some facts:
NASA is trying to tread carefully as it heads towards the use of nuclear-powered space exploration (
- remember the protests against the use of nuclear fuel
?). Obviously, the crash of a nuclear-powered shuttle over earth could have immensely tragic consequences. NASA feels it needs nuclear fuel to send man to Mars, and is desperate, for a
combination of practical (a Mars mission will keep NASA alive) and mystical (a Mars mission will allow for the continuance of the quasi-religious attitude NASA has towards manned space
missions; did you see those insane NASA scientists salivate in their Columbia press conferences when they talked of 'manned space flight'?)) reasons to have a manned mission to Mars. If NASA
were to reveal that Texans and others may have been exposed to radiation due to some secret experiment, the political repercussions would probably end the chance for NASA to use nuclear
power in space. The use of nuclear power in space is also part of the militarization of space, something which the Bush Administration is in the process of implementing. Since no one is able
to stop the Bush Administration or the nuts at NASA, I imagine we're going to see many more of this kind of incident as NASA conducts its experiments on the world.
- The Sheriff of Nacogdoches, Texas, Thomas Kerss,
that there was nuclear material on board the shuttle, and therefore any recovered debris would be tested for radioactivity. The Shreveport Times
, referring to Nacogdoches County: "NASA provided county officials with a list of recovery priorities that includes anything that could contain data or resembles computer circuitry, or
potentially radioactive materials." What does 'potentially radioactive' mean?
- The Orlando Sentinel
"Dale Vodak, environmental investigator for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said the teams have made progress recovering hazardous materials, including explosive
bolts, fuel cells and a small quantity of a radioactive isotope, Americium 242 - used in smoke detectors."
is a radioactive metal. Smoke detectors
Americium 241. It may be a coincidence, but the Israelis
the use of Americium 242m as a nuclear fuel to propel spacecraft. An Israeli, Ilan Ramon, was doing scientific research on the shuttle. Could he have had a secret project to test the use of
Americium 242m as a propellant in space? If so, how much of it is now spread over Texas?
- Unless someone actually approaches a significant concentration of nuclear material, we are not likely to see any dramatic deaths. NASA is presumably counting on the fact that the effects
of the crash will only be a statistical long term rise in certain kinds of cancers, which will only become apparent long after it has started its nuclear program.
- Animals in Texas
of unusual illness. This could be caused by exposure to some chemical in the debris. Could it also be caused by exposure to radiation?
- The shuttle, if it did contain radioactive material, is now serving as an experiment for NASA in determining how widely the material would spread in a crash. Not telling the people of
Texas about their possible exposure, and thus preventing them from taking any steps to keep from getting sick, will allow NASA to study the long-term health effects of any spread of