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Technical Basis Related to the Posture of NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance for the Launch of Radioactive Material Other than Space Nuclear Systems: Volume 1–Overview of Analysis and ResultsNASA has launched and reentered payloads containing radioactive material for over 50 years. The isotopes, their quantity, and their form have varied significantly. The handling of this material prior to its integration into the spacecraft at the launch Center (and after its return to Earth after flight, if applicable) falls under the purview of the Office of the Chief Health and Medical Officer, while after the radioactive material is integrated into the spacecraft at the launch Center, it falls under the purview of the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance’s (OSMA) Nuclear Flight Safety Program. Historically, OSMA concurrence was required for any launch or reentry involving radioactive material. However, OSMA recently revisited this posture due to changes in the Federal policy in this area, and the significant accrued experience. The current report represents the more quantitative study envisioned in the recent change in posture. More specifically, this document addresses the potential risks and other considerations associated with launching small quantities of radioactive material (below the level requiring the Federally-mandated process in National Security Presidential Memorandum- (NSPM-) 20, “Presidential Memorandum on Launch of Spacecraft Containing Space Nuclear Systems” (USG, 2019) to provide the technical basis for when such activities require OSMA concurrence versus notification, as it relates to nuclear flight safety.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Contractor or Grantee Report
Don Helton
(National Aeronautics and Space Administration Washington D.C., District of Columbia, United States)
Michael Witmer
(Jacobs (United States) Dallas, Texas, United States)
Date Acquired
February 23, 2023
Publication Date
March 22, 2023
Subject Category
Systems Analysis and Operations Research
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
Single Expert
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