NASA To Allow Nuclear Power Systems For Discovery Mission Written 22 March 2018

Space News reports that due to “progress in producing plutonium-238, NASA will allow scientists proposing missions for an upcoming planetary science competition to use nuclear power sources.” In a statement issued March 17, NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green “said the agency was reversing an earlier decision prohibiting the use of radioisotope power systems for spacecraft proposed for the next mission in the agency’s Discovery program.” In December, NASA had warned that it would not allow nuclear power systems “based on projected use of existing stocks of plutonium-238 for upcoming missions.” Speaking at a town hall during Saturday’s 49th Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference, Green said that NASA reviewed current and projected plutonium-238 supplies with the Department of Energy, which “led him to conclude that it would be feasible to allow the use of radioisotope power systems on the next Discovery mission, in the form of two multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or MMRTGs.”
More Info (Space News)