Your rocket malfunctioned during lift-off and never made it into space. Of course, there are no survivors.
What's worse, you've just scattered a vaporized nuclear reactor core in the earth's atmosphere. Thousands, if not millions, of earthlings will eventually die as a result of exposure to radiation.
Unlikely? Perhaps, but it has happened before:
- On November 17, 1996, the Mars 96 space probe malfunctioned and fell to Earth with a half-pound of plutonium on board.
- On January 24, 1978, the Cosmos 954 scattered nuclear debris over the Canadian tundra.
In October of 1997 NASA will send the largest plutonium payload ever (72.3 pounds) furiously hurtling through the atmosphere into space aboard the spacecraft CASSINI.
Accidents will happen again. And it will be much more serious if we go ahead with plans to develop nuclear powered spacecraft (and we will).
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