smooth wombat writes "With the end of the Cold War came warmer relations with old adversaries, increased trade and a world less worried about nuclear war. It also brought with it an unexpected downside: lack of nuclear fuel to power deep space probes. Without this fuel, probes beyond Jupiter won't work because there isn't enough sunlight to use solar panels, which probes closer to the sun use. The fuel NASA relies on to power deep space probes is plutonium-238. This isotope is the result of nuclear weaponry, and since the United States has not made a nuclear device in 20 years, the supply has run out. For now, NASA is using Soviet supplies, but they too are almost exhausted. It is estimated it will cost at least $150 million to resume making the 11 pounds per year that is needed for space probes."
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