Power NASA's Deep Space Probes
For more than 50 years, NASA’s robotic deep space probes have carried radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs (nuclear batteries) utilizing plutonium-238. The United States’ supply of plutonium-238, which fuels RTGs, is running very low. Concern exists about our ability to continue exploration without access to this material.
NASA Glenn has produced a more efficient power pack for the next generation space probes, but plutonium-238 is still required.
Plutonium-238 (which is NOT a bomb-making material) is a by-product of the Thorium fuel cycle and is easily separated from other isotopes in a LCMSR (Liquid Core Molten Salt Reactor.) The development and commercialization of the LCMSR and Thorium fuel cycle could provide for all of NASA’s deep space probe needs.