FIGURE 3.2 Time line for reestablishing domestic 238Pu production and NASA mission planning, 2010 through 2028, assuming the Department of Energy starts work in fiscal year 2010.

FIGURE 3.2 Time line for reestablishing domestic 238Pu production and NASA mission planning, 2010 through 2028, assuming the Department of Energy starts work in fiscal year 2010.

15 RPS missions were launched during a period of 8½ years from April 1969 through September 1977. Those missions included 31 RPSs of four different designs (see Table 2.1). It would be useful to know what it took to accomplish this feat in terms of staff, facilities, and facility usage at the DOE and at NASA, especially at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Kennedy Space Center.

Assessments of workforce issues related to radiological contingency planning associated with the Safety Review and Launch Approval Process under Presidential Directive/National Security Council Memorandum 25 (PD/NSC-25, 1977) should also consider the demands of additional missions that use radioisotope heater units but not RPSs (e.g., the Mars Pathfinder mission and the Mars Exploration Rover A and B missions).12 Also, not all launch reviews are equal.

12

Radioisotope heater units (RHUs) provide small amounts of heat (on the order of 1 W) to keep selected spacecraft components warm. They are used when mass and electrical power are at a premium for providing spacecraft thermal control. RHUs produce heat from the natural decay of radioactive material, but they do not produce electricity.



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