Plutonium for "Secret Missions?" What the hell?

What is this all about?

On top of everything else, they have to lay this on us? I didn’t think it could ever happen, but the needle on my distrust-o-meter just broke after I read this. What the fuck “secret missions” are they planning on using this Plutonium for?

Am I justified in being made more than a tad uneasy by this?

A 1.5 billion price tag for some espionage gear seems a bit steep–but other than that I can’t say I have any issue.
Spooks are spooky: That’s why they’re called spooks.

Plutonium-238 is used as a power source. It isn’t used in nuclear weapons.

I don’t see anything in this story to get worked up about.

'Secret Missions?"

Since when is any kind of energy production referred to as a “mission?” And why would it be “secret?”

It’s not for large scale power generation, but for small electrical devices powered by the decay heat of the element. Used to be used to power pacemakers as well.

I could see it being used to power bugging devices and the like. Although they’d be kind of easy to track down with a geiger counter…

Take it easy. It will be used to power secret espionage devices on secret espionage missions. It’s secret because the government isn’t in the habit of telling other countries “Okay, we’re going to spy on you now.”

They’re producing the plutonium for missions; producing it isn’t a mission, nor is it secret (obviously.)
The espionage missions that it will be used for is of course secret–otherwise it wouldn’t be spying.

So pretty much, they are talking about making things like James Bond’s do-everything watch. This would be the battery for that.


Hey, this is kind of cool!

There might be a bit of a stink when one of our nuclear powered predator drones crashes in Nok Kundi, and renders the city center unihabitable.

On the other hand I can’t believe they let the story get presented this way.

Spy satellite engines, etc. RTGs are a common power source for deep-space probes. I like the nuclear powered drone idea, too. Clever. All in all, nothing too astonishing here.

And really, is the stink from the crash of a few kilograms of Pu-238 going to be any worse than our having dumped tons and tons of depleted Uranium on Iraq?

Or an infrared camera/heat detector. :dubious:

The Russians had some navigation beacons for aircraft that were nuclear powered.
Maybe it’s to guide submarines.


Spy sats.

Mr. McClellan Speaks:

Maybe 50,000 drums of radioactive waste?

The kind of secret missions this plutonium might be used for seems obvious to me. It’s for smoking out terrorists. Osama bin Laden would love to get his hands on some plutonium so the US is trying to lure him with some “fake” plutonium that looks real to unsophisticated equipment. If you want to read a fictional account of how this could play out, try Fredrick Forsythe’s excellent novel Avenger.

Nah, it will be used to power some of these devices when we release the prisons at Guantanimo. Any that approach Osama Bin Laden can be used to blow him up.