News Release

Despite Juno Arriving at Jupiter, NASA Still Pursuing Nuclear Power


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KARL GROSSMAN, kgrossman[at]
Professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, Grossman is author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet.

He just wrote the piece “Solar-Energized Juno to Arrive at Jupiter on Independence Day,” which states: “What NASA insisted for decades could not be — ­a spacecraft using solar energy rather than nuclear power going beyond the orbit of Mars­ — will be proven false next Monday, July 4th, Independence Day, when the solar-energized Juno space probe arrives at Jupiter.

“NASA had maintained that to provide on-board power and heat on spacecraft in deep space, plutonium-powered systems were required — ­despite the disaster if there were an accident on launch or in a fall back to Earth and the plutonium was released. I broke the story 30 years ago about how the next mission of NASA’s ill-fated Challenger shuttle was to involve lofting a plutonium-powered space probe and I have been reporting in articles, books and on television on the nuclear-in-space issue ever since.

“If the Challenger accident did not happen in January 1986 but the shuttle exploded on its next scheduled mission, in May 1986, with the plutonium-powered space probe in its cargo bay, the impacts could have been enormous. Plutonium is the most lethal of all radioactive substances. …

“Unfortunately, if NASA and the DOE [Department of Energy] have their way, rational energy decision-making won’t necessarily follow a Juno success. ‘The United States has begun manufacturing nuclear spacecraft fuel for the first time in a generation,’ reported SpaceNews last month. …”

Grossman quotes Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space: “To this day, NASA still maintains that it must use deadly nuclear devices on some of its space missions — further evidence that the nuclear industry maintains a stranglehold on the space agency. The nuclear industry mistakenly views space as a new market for its toxic product that so many have rejected back here on Earth.'”