This story was reported on NPR last Sunday but I forgot to bring it up. Now that Instapundit has linked to it, though, here it is: we are about to lose our ability to send out deep space probes due to a lack of specialized plutonium fuel. If I have the NPR story right (and the link is to Popular Science which will have it right), we haven’t made any of this stuff since the 19080s and we have enough of it left for one, maybe two more flights. After that, nothing, and it will take at least eight years to make more.
Local flights can use solar energy but deep space has no light and hence, no fuel. Obama had put $30 million into next years budget to re-start production but the House cut that funding in half and the Senate eliminated it altogether. This strikes me as a real shame. As one scientist interviewed by NPR said, “ten years from now, people are going to look at this situation and ask, ‘what were they thinking?’ “. Where’s a spendthrift Congress when we need one?