Grossman 10 (Karl, Journalism prof @ the State U of NY and author of "Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power”, 6/11/10, http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/articles/obama-and-the-nuclear-rocket.html) JPG
The Obama administration is seeking to renew the use of nuclear power in space. It is calling for revived production by the U.S. of plutonium-238 for use in space devices—despite solar energy having become a substitute for plutonium power in space. And the Obama administration appears to also want to revive the decades-old and long-discredited scheme of nuclear-powered rockets—despite strides made in new ways of propelling spacecraft. Last month, Japan launched what it called its “space yacht” which is now heading to Venus propelled by solar sails utilizing ionized particles emitted by the Sun. “Because of the frictionless environment, such a craft should be able to speed up until it is traveling many times faster than a conventional rocket-powered craft,” wrote Agence France-Presse about this spacecraft launched May 21. But the Obama administration would return to using nuclear power in space—despite its enormous dangers. A cheerleader for this is the space industry publication Space News. “Going Nuclear” was the headline of itseditorial on March 1praising the administration for its space nuclear thrust. Space New declared that “for the second year in a row, the Obama administration is asking Congress for at least $30 million to begin a multiyear effort to restart domestic production of plutonium-238, the essential ingredient in long-lasting spacecraft batteries.” The Space News editorial also noted that “President Obama’s NASA budget [for 2011] also includes support for nuclear thermal propulsion and nuclear electric propulsion research under a $650 million Exploration Technology and Demonstration funding line projected to triple by 2013.”
Bipartisan consensus against nuclear power – Japan meltdowns
The fragile bipartisan consensus that nuclear power offers a big piece of the answer to America’s energy and global warming challenges may have evaporated as quickly as confidence in Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors. President Obama is seeking tens of billions of dollars in government insurance for new nuclear reactor construction. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman wants to “put the brakes” on nuclear construction for now while studying what happened in Japan. Until this weekend, President Obama, mainstream environmental groups andlarge numbers of Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed that nuclear power offered asteadyenergysource and part of the solution to climate change, even as they disagreed on virtually every other aspect of energy policy. Mr. Obama is seeking tens of billions of dollars in government insurance for new nuclear construction, and the nuclear industry in the United States, all but paralyzed for decades after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, was poised for a comeback. Now, that is all in question as the world watches the unfolding crisis in Japan’s nuclear reactors and the widespread terror it has spawned.
But even staunch supporters of nuclear power are now advocating a pause in licensing and building new reactors in the United States to make sure that proper safety and evacuation measures are in place. Environmental groups are reassessing their willingness to see nuclear power as a linchpin of any future climate change legislation. Mr. Obama still sees nuclear power as a major element of future American energy policy, but he is injecting a new tone of caution into his endorsement.
Nuclear power in space is politically and publicly unpopular
Gagnon 3 (Bruce, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space group, 1/27/3, http://www.spacedaily.com/news/nuclearspace-03b.html) JPG
NASA's expanded focus on nuclear power in space "is not only dangerous but politicallyunwise," says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of nuclear physics at the City University of New York. "The only thing that can kill the U.S. space program is a nuclear disaster. The American people will not tolerate a Chernobyl in the sky." "NASA hasn't learned its lesson from its history involving space nuclear power," says Kaku, "and a hallmark of science is that you learn from previous mistakes. NASA doggedly pursues its fantasy of nuclear power in space." Since the 1960s there have been eight space nuclear power accidents by the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, several of which released deadly plutonium into the Earth's atmosphere. In April, 1964 a U.S. military satellite with 2.1 pounds of plutonium-238 on-board fell back to Earth and burned up as it hit the atmosphere spreading the toxic plutonium globally as dust to be ingested by the people of the planet. In 1997 NASA launched the Cassini space probe carrying 72 pounds of plutonium that fortunately did not experience failure. If it had, hundreds of thousands of people around the world could have been contaminated.