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A Report from the First Hearing on the 2015 NASA Budget
The House Space Subcommittee Gets First Crack at the President's Budget

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/03/27 12:07 CDT | 4 comments

An animated NASA Administrator defended the commercial crew program as the fastest way to return to American access to low-Earth orbit in a hearing before the House Space Subcommittee today.

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[Updated] To Europa!...Slowly. First Impressions of NASA's New Budget Request
My first impressions of the 2015 NASA Budget Request from the White House

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/03/07 11:20 CST | 5 comments

Europa may get a mission...eventually. We give our first take on the 2015 NASA Budget request. How does Planetary Exploration fare? Which projects were cancelled? Will NASA capture an asteroid? And most importantly, what can you do about it?

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Closing out the ASRG program

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/23 02:04 CST

Lockheed, the prime contract on the now-defunct Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator program, is closing out the project and transferring its hardware to NASA's Glenn Research Center. NASA expects to save about $55 million per year.

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Continued Victories for Planetary Exploration
For the second year in a row Congress rejects cuts requested by the White House

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2014/01/16 07:33 CST | 5 comments

Pat yourself on the back. Planetary exploration will be more vibrant in 2014 thanks to you. More than fifty thousand messages were sent to Congress this year, and they listened, adding back a significant amount of money in the 2014 Omnibus spending bill.

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The ASRG Cancellation in Context

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/12/09 12:50 CST | 8 comments

ASRGs could have stretched NASA's limited supply of plutonium to potentially enable missions to the perpetually-shadowed polar craters on our moon, to flyby Uranus, or to float for months on a Titan lake.

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NASA Just Cancelled its Advanced Spacecraft Power Program
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator was to use less Plutonium for cheaper missions.

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/11/15 04:06 CST | 32 comments

The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Program (ASRG) was just cancelled by NASA. This was to be the saving grace for Plutonium-238 availability, as it was a much more efficient way to generate electricity than classic RTG systems.

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Mars Needs Plutonium! (And so do Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Points Beyond)
Planetary Radio Talks With Casey Dreier About Restoring Production of an Isotope

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/29 10:38 CDT

Society Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator Casey Dreier visits Planetary Radio with the tale of an element that is essential to exploration of deep space.

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Power From the Isotopes
The United States is trying to generate plutonium fuel for the first time in 25 years. Will it succeed?

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/29 01:21 CDT | 2 comments

We report on the current state of Plutonium-238 production in the United States, a crucial fuel source for planetary exploration spacecraft.

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Plutonium-238 is Crucial for Space Exploration – and it's Running Out
The Planetary Society works to maintain plutonium availability for deep space missions

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/20 11:29 CDT | 3 comments

Plutonium-238 provides electricity to deep space missions, but NASA only has a little bit left. A new article in Wired highlights the disastrous consequences of no plutonium for use in space, something the Planetary Society is currently fighting for in Washington, D.C.

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The Energy Department is Full of Hugely Wasteful Spending, But Can't Afford to Make Plutonium for NASA
Congressional Energy Committees Should Focus More On Waste, Less on Making NASA Pay

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/13 11:49 CDT | 2 comments

A recent report shows that major programs within the Department of Energy are billions of dollars over budget due to lax oversight, yet the congressional committees responsible for the Department

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NASA's Europa Mission Concept Rejects ASRGs -- May Use Solar Panels at Jupiter Instead
Untested technology is too risky

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/09/05 06:41 CDT | 6 comments

The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) is no longer an option for powering a potential Europa mission. The ASRG uses Plutonium-238 to generate electricity, but is far more efficient than past RTGs.

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First Analysis: the NASA Planetary Science Budget for 2014

Posted by Van Kane on 2013/04/10 06:13 CDT | 7 comments

No mission to Europa, diminished funding for outer planets missions, a small bump to small spacecraft missions, and an increase for asteroid detection are part of the White House's proposal for NASA in 2014.

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[Updated] Senate Bill Restores $223 million to NASA's Planetary Science Division
A step in the positive direction, but far from certain

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/03/27 05:15 CDT | 4 comments

The President signed the Senate's bill to fund the government for the remainder of 2013, and it includes some positive news for NASA's Planetary Science division, which is facing a 21% cut.

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URGENT: Call Appropriations Committee members to support Pu-238 production

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/14 02:21 CDT

I just got the following email from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), requesting anyone whose Congressperson sits on the Appropriations Committee to place a phone call to support the production of Plutonium-238, the isotope of plutonium that powers spacecraft that cannot run on solar power.

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