Plutonium Protest Organizers Expect No-shows for MSL Launch [Florida Today]
The scheduled Nov. 26 launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., won’t be attracting the crowds of anti-nuclear protesters seen for launches of earlier plutonium-fueled probes, Florida Today reports.
Protest organizers cite a variety of factors in predicting a small turnout for demonstrations against the planned 10:02 a.m. launch, including apathy, holiday and shopping distractions, and the struggling U.S. economy. “It’s not that we’re not concerned, but folks are so worried about the economy right now it’s hard to drum up support over something that ‘might’ happen,” said Maria Telesca-Whipple, an organizer with the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
NASA officials say that if plutonium-238 were released from an MSL launch accident — they put the odds of that at 1 in 420 — it could spread over a 60-mile radius, but the highest exposure to humans would be comparable to a dental X-ray, according to safety experts.