Yet, concerns that an accident at launch would expose people to radioactivityhave caused some citizens to staunchly oppose the technology. In 1997, public outcry over the use of 73 pounds of plutonium almost scrapped the Cassini mission, a probe which is now delivering stunning vistas and scientific data from Saturn. In 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the outer solar system, but the radioactive material required to power the probe resulted in a lot of political hand-wringing, said Todd May, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, who worked on the New Horizons mission. "The stack of documents that it took to launch that small amount of plutonium on the New Horizons mission was enormous," May said.
Plan is politically unpalatable – high costs, publicly unpopular – upcoming elections magnify the links
Pizarro-Chong et. al. 10 (Ary, researcher @ McGill space flight dynamics lab, 11/11/10, “Development of space nuclear reactors for lunar purposes: overview of technical and non-technical issues”, 1339-1344, Systems and Control in Aeronautics and Astronautics (ISSCAA), IEEE) JPG
NASA has not been interested in developing nuclear tech- nology to the point of flight testing, and current US policy restricting live tests of a fueled core prevents the advance of critical technologies for the required high power (40-50 to l00+ kWe) long-lifetime (5-10+ years) Space Nuclear Power (SNP) systems. It is worthwhile to note that public nuclear risk concerns become political risk in an election year, and they could kill a politically unstable and expensive program.Extensive Congressional support to develop a next- generation Radioisotope Thermal Generator (RTG) or tospace-qualify a nuclear reactor is unlikely under current budgetary philosophy because of the significantup-front R&D costs. In the present moment and in the near-term future, the useofnuclearreactors and advanced RTGs isinhibited by the status of their development, by inadequate mission cost estimates, and by public perception of the risks associated withnuclear-based technologies. Moreover, the recent cost-cutting initiatives by Congress have placed the entire nuclear-research infrastructure at risk. If there are no hard mission requirements for SNP, there will be no reason to support the existence of facilities dedicated to its development. Congressional action in reducing DOE’s budgets have forced that agency to consider closing facilities it considers redundant. Facilities for the production of Plutonium-238 (Pu-238) for use in the RTG have been targeted for closure. These facilities have not received needed upgrades and improvements and would need these before beginning to manufacture the amount of fuel needed for the RTGs and reactors proposed for a new Mars program. These facilities often stand empty and waiting between orders for nuclear fuel and are a significant drain on DOE’s budget. However, without these facilities, no fuel can be manufactured for this critical technology.
Politics Link – Public
Massive public resistance to the plan
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
Obama’s choice to head NASA, Charles Bolden, favors nuclear-powered rockets—but he acknowledgespublic resistance. In a recent presentation before the Council on Foreign Relations, he opened the door to having a nuclear-powered rocket launched conventionally and moving in space with nuclear power. Bolden, a former astronaut and U.S. Marine Corps major general, spoke in the May 24th address, of work by another ex-astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, on a nuclear-propelled rocket. “Chang-Diaz is developing what’s called a VASIMIR rocket,” said Bolden. “It’s an ion engine, very gentle impulse that just pushes you forever, constantly accelerating. And this, theoretically, is something that would enable us to go from Earth to Mars in a matter of some time significantly less than it takes us now.” But, he said, “most people…in the United States are never going to agree to allow nuclear rockets to launch things from Earth.” Yet “once you get into space, you know, if we can convince people that we can contain it and not put masses of people in jeopardy, nuclear propulsion for in-space propulsion” would enable a faster trip to Mars. He said, “You don’t want to have to take eight months to go from Earth orbit to Mars.”
Politics Link – Public
Plan’s unpopular with the public and the government Lemos 7 (Robert, award-winning technology journalist of more than 13 years, Sep 20, [http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2007/09/space_nukes] AD: 7-6-11, jam)
LONG BEACH, California -- The public will have to overcome its squeamishness about nuclear power, if current plans for space missions and manned outposts are ever to become reality, industry experts told attendees at the Space 2007 conference this week. The public's fear of fallout and the government's worries about losing nuclear material have led to onerous requirements in using radioactive sources of power for space probes and to funding cuts for nuclear propulsion research, executives said. Future missions and the creation of outposts on the moon and other planets will require the technology, they added. "We need to restart development into nuclear propulsion," said Maureen Heath, vice president of Northrup Grumman's Civil Space division. "This is an area where we need to spend more resources to enable the next era of exploration." Nuclear power and propulsion for spacecraft are nothing new. Since the 1960s, the United States has had the capabilities to launch vehicles powered by radioactive materials. Experiment packages on many of the Apollo missions used nuclear power systems as well. In 2006,NASA shut down most of its research into nuclear propulsion technologies, a project the agency had dubbed Prometheus. The agency had contracted with Northrup Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin to propose future propulsion systems based on nuclear power.
Plan’s universally unpopular Lemos 7 (Robert, award-winning technology journalist of more than 13 years, Sep 20, [http://www.wired.com/science/space/news/2007/09/space_nukes] AD: 7-6-11, jam)
Yet, concerns that an accident at launch would expose people to radioactivity have caused some citizens to staunchly oppose the technology. In 1997, public outcry overthe use of 73 pounds of plutoniumalmost scrapped the Cassinimission, a probe which is now delivering stunning vistas and scientific data from Saturn. In 2006, NASA launched the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the outer solar system, but the radioactive material required to power the probe resulted in a lot of political hand-wringing, said Todd May, deputy associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, who worked on the New Horizons mission.
Orion is empirically unpopular Space News Staff 9 (Space News, online space news publisher, Oct 5, [www.spacenews.com/policy/congress-denies-funds-for-plutonium-238-production.html] AD: 7-7-11, jam)
U.S. lawmakers ironing out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the Department of Energy’s 2010 spending bill denied President Barack Obama’s request for $30 million to restart domestic production of plutonium-238 (pu-238), a critical material used by NASA inlong-lasting nuclear batteries for deep space missions.