Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Urges Restart of Pu-238 Production, American Institute of Physics
"On November 18, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee sent a letter regarding Pu-238 production to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman John Rockefeller (D-WV), House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Energy Undersecretary for Science Steven Koonin, Office of Science Director William Brinkman, and NASA Associate Administrator Edward Weiler. Expressing concern that a further delay in Pu-238 production will hinder outer solar system planetary missions and future astrophysics missions, the letter urges "prompt action be taken and appropriate budgetary resources be identified through cooperative coordination between DOE, NASA, and, if applicable, other federal agencies (i.e., NNSA, Dept. Homeland Security), to enable the Pu-238 project production restart for deep space mission applications."
Previous related story: AAS email: Plutonium 238 Production: An Ongoing Issue for Washington, American Astronomical Society
"It is not often that a $30M issue in an appropriations bill gets a lot of attention. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Senate staff state that they have $100M round off errors, but recent language in Congressional legislation appropriating funds of this magnitude can have a direct, negative impact on the long-term success of US planetary science and, potentially, creative approaches to power generation for future astrophysics missions, earth observation missions and other research activities in space."