NASA Space Nuclear Rocket Environmental Impact Statement
21 April 2005
NASA recently announced intentions to move forward with plans for the nuclear rocket (Project Prometheus) for missions to the Moon, Mars and other planetary bodies. They must first go through a public Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process. We strongly urge all Global Network supporters to help us by sending comments to NASA as soon as possible.
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DATES: Interested parties are invited to submit comments on environmental issues and concerns in writing on or before May 31, 2005.
ADDRESSES: Hardcopy comments should be mailed to NASA Prometheus PEIS, NASA Headquarters, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Mail Suite 2V-39, 300 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20546-0001. Comments may be submitted by e-mail to: email@example.com, or via the Internet at: http://exploration.nasa.gov/nasa-prometheus-peis.html.
NASA is entering the next phase in its scientific exploration of the solar system that will increase the use of nuclear systems. NASA says, this phase of exploration missions cannot be accomplished with the current propulsion, energy production and storage technologies presently available.
NASA maintains the nuclear rocket could enable multi-destination, multi-year exploration missions. NASA says increased power and energy on-board the spacecraft would also permit: (1) Launching spacecraft with larger science payloads; (2) use of advanced high capability scientific instruments; and (3) transmission of large amounts of data back to Earth.
The EIS will articulate the purpose and need for space nuclear fission reactors for production of electric power and their relation to NASA's overall exploration strategy. The EIS is supposed to evaluate other power technologies to determine whether reasonable alternatives exist to meet NASA's purpose and need.
The Pentagon has long maintained they need nuclear reactors in order to provide the enormous power required for weapons in space. In a Congressional study entitled Military Space Forces: The Next 50 Years it was reported that "Nuclear reactors thus remain the only know long-lived, compact source able to supply military forces with electric power...Larger versions could meet multimegawatt needs of space-based lasers....Nuclear reactors must support major bases on the moon..." In an article printed in the Idaho Statesman on April 20, 1992 military officials stated "The Air Force is not developing [the nuclear rocket] for space exploration. They're looking at it to deliver payloads to space." Considering that NASA says all of their space missions will now be "dual use," meaning every mission will be both military and civilian at the same time, it is important to ask what the military application of the Project Prometheus will be.
KEY POINTS TO MAKE (Please use your own words)
1) NASA & Department of Energy (DoE) have a bad track record of ecosystem contamination during the nuclear production, purification, assembly and testing process. Previous generations of the nuclear rocket were cancelled because of fears of environmental consequences.
2) The Pentagon has long maintained they need nuclear reactors for military use in space. What will be the military application of Project Prometheus?
3) NASA and DoE have underfunded research and development of alternative space energy sources. Scientists at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio maintain that "there really isn't any edge of sunshine" if resources are put into developing new non-nuclear technologies for space travel.
4) What would be the environmental implications of a worst-case nuclear rocket accident? Why does the Price-Anderson Act limit U.S. liability to clean-up space nuclear accidents around the world?
5) In addition to the Florida space center, what other sites around the U.S. would launch the nuclear rocket?
6) Once the nuclear rocket is launched and reaches its destination, what happens when the radioactively contaminated rocket returns to Earth?
7) The enormous cost of the development of the nuclear rocket comes at a time when the U.S. national treasury faces enormous deficit. Our tax dollars would be better spent on health care, education, public transportation, and environmental restoration right here on planet Earth.
8) For all these reasons we call on NASA, DoE, and the Pentagon to cancel plans for Project Prometheus - the nuclear rocket.
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space