42 USC 18385 – On-going restoration of radioisotope thermoelectric generator material production
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The United States has led the world in the scientific exploration of space for nearly 50 years.
(2) Missions such as Viking, Voyager, Cassini, and New Horizons have greatly expanded knowledge of our solar system and planetary characteristics and evolution.
(3) Radioisotope power systems are the only available power sources for deep space missions making it possible to travel to such distant destinations as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, and beyond and maintain operational control and systems viability for extended mission durations.
(4) Current radioisotope power systems supplies and production will not fully support NASA missions planned even in the next decade and, without a new domestic production capability, the United States will no longer have the means to explore the majority of the solar system by the end of this decade.
(5) Continuing to rely on Russia or other foreign sources for radioisotope power system fuel production is not a secure option.
(6) Reestablishing domestic production will require a long lead-time. Thus, meeting future space exploration mission needs requires that a restart project begin at the earliest opportunity.
(b) In general
The Administrator shall, in coordination with the Secretary of Energy, pursue a joint approach beginning in fiscal year 2011 towards restarting and sustaining the domestic production of radioisotope thermoelectric generator material for deep space and other science and exploration missions. Funds authorized by this chapter for NASA shall be made available under a reimbursable agreement with the Department of Energy for the purpose of reestablishing facilities to produce fuel required for radioisotope thermoelectric generators to enable future missions.
Within 120 days after October 11, 2010, the Administrator and the Secretary of Energy shall submit a joint report to the appropriate committees of Congress on coordinated agreements, planned implementation, and anticipated schedule, production quantities, and mission applications under this section.