19 January 2006
Press site warning for nuke safety
Posted by John Kelly
Florida Today


The government officials are making the rounds of the press site.

They just ducked their heads inside our concrete building here at the Kennedy Space Center press site, reminding us of the steps to take if something goes wrong today.

The nuclear generator aboard the New Horizons spacecraft is designed to stay intact, protecting against a release of radioactive plutonium fuel in a form that can harm people. However, government studies show a release remains possible.

We were just told the same thing we've been telling you for months now. If the rocket explodes during the first 40 seconds of flight and winds are blowing the resulting plume toward populated areas, people should go inside immediately.

We were told to get inside fast, turn off our air conditioning and wait for word from NASA officials about what to do next. We're all prepared here for that possibility.

If you want to review some of the nuclear safety issues involved with this mission, I'd invite you to go back and take a look at our initial reporting on this here as well as the story on launch-day preparations from Tuesday's first launch try.

See also: other articles on New Horizons

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