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Radioisotope Power Systems Project

Project Scope

The Space Studies Board, in conjunction with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, will appoint a study committee to prepare a report that addresses the following issues regarding the development and use of radioisotope power systems (RPSs) for NASA space missions:

Technical readiness and programmatic balance of NASA's RPS technology portfolio to support NASA near- and long-term mission plans;

Effectiveness and ability of U.S. Government agency management structures, including participating organizations and roles and responsibilities, to meet stated goals and objectives of U.S. programs for RPS capabilities within the current statutory and policy framework;

Importance to the national interest of maintaining and/or re-establishing needed infrastructure at field centers, laboratories, and the private sector R&D base, given the recent curtailment of RPS program content and ambitious national goals in space exploration;

Strategies for re-establishment of Pu-238 domestic production versus the likelihood of continued procurement of Russian-produced material in view of potential competition for Pu-238 fuel from other space-faring nations and the critical shortage of U.S.-owned inventory; and

Identification of any actions that could be taken in the context of the overall RPS program to meet stated science and exploration goals.

This project is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration

Committee Members

MG William W. Hoover - (Co-Chair)
Independent Consultant

Dr. Ralph L. McNutt, Jr. - (Co-Chair)
Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory

Mr. Douglas M. Allen
Schafer Corporation

Dr. Samim Anghaie
University of Florida

Dr. Reta F. Beebe
New Mexico State University

Dr. Warren W. Buck
University of Washington

Ms. Beverly A. Cook
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Sergio B. Guarro
The Aerospace Corporation

Dr. Roger D. Launius
Smithsonian Institution

Dr. Frank B. McDonald
University of Maryland, College Park

Mr. Alan R. Newhouse
Independent Consultant

Lt. Col. Joseph A. Sholtis, Jr.
Sholtis Engineering & Safety Consulting

Dr. Spencer R. Titley
University of Arizona

Dr. Emanuel Tward
Northrop Grumman Space Technology

Mr. Earl Wahlquist
U.S. Department of Energy [Retired]