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NASA is running out of nuclear fuel needed for its deep space exploration. The end of the Cold War's nuclear weapons buildup means that the U.S. space agency does not have enough plutonium for future faraway space probes -- except for a few missions already scheduled -- according to a new study released Thursday by the National Academy of Sciences. Deep space probes beyond Jupiter can't use solar power because they're too far from the sun. So they rely on a certain type of plutonium, plutonium-238. However, it isn't found in nature; it's a byproduct of nuclear weaponry.
This sounds like an excellent time to "beat swords into plowshares." It should be possible to decommission enough nuclear warheads to provide plutonium for another decade of space exploration without the $180 million expenditure and associated hazards of resuming plutonium production.