National Environmental Policy Act; Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems, 625-628 [E5-8280]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 3 / Thursday, January 5, 2006 / Notices (‘‘CRDRA’’), Public Law No. 108–419, 118 Stat. 2341. This Act, which the President signed into law on November 30, 2004, and which became effective on May 31, 2005, amends the Copyright Act, title 17 of the United States Code, by phasing out the CARP system and replacing it with three permanent Copyright Royalty Judges (‘‘CRJs’’). Consequently, the CRJs will carry out the functions heretofore performed by the CARPs, including the adjustment of rates and terms for certain statutory licenses such as the section 114 and 112 licenses. However, section 6(b)(3) of the Act states in pertinent part: [t]he rates and terms in effect under section 114(f)(2) or 112(e) * * * on December 30, 2004, for new subscription services [and] eligible nonsubscription services * * * shall remain in effect until the later of the first applicable effective date for successor terms and rates * * * or such later date as the parties may agree or the Copyright Royalty Judges may establish. America Online, Inc.; 7 Beethoven Radio; 8 MTV Networks; 9 Microsoft Corporation; 10 Live365, Inc.; 11 Cox Radio Interactive; 12 and Yahoo!, Inc. 13 As stated in § 262.6(c), the Copyright Office then is required to publish a notice in the Federal Register within thirty days of receipt of the filing announcing the Designated Agent’s intent to conduct an audit. In accordance with this regulation, the Office is publishing today’s notice to fulfill this requirement with respect to SoundExchange’s eleven notices of intent to audit identified herein. Dated: December 30, 2005. Tanya M. Sandros, Associate General Counsel. [FR Doc. E5–8309 Filed 1–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410–33–P NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION [Notice (05–177)] National Environmental Policy Act; Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems One of the current terms, set forth in § 262.6 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations, states that SoundExchange, as the Designated Agent, may conduct a single audit of a Licensee for the purpose of verifying their royalty payments. As a preliminary matter, the Designated Agent is required to submit a notice of its intent to audit a Licensee with the Copyright Office and serve this notice on the service to be audited. 37 CFR 262.6(c). On December 23, 2005, SoundExchange filed with the Copyright Office eleven notices of intent to audit the following eligible nonsubscription and new subscription services for the years 2002, 2003, and 2004: Bonneville International Corporation; 3 Susquehanna Radio Corp.; 4 RealNetworks, Inc.; 5 Clear Channel Communications, Inc.; 6 cchase on PROD1PC60 with NOTICES Successor rates and terms for these licenses have not yet been established. Accordingly, the terms of the section 114 and 112 licenses, as currently constituted, are still in effect. SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500–1508), and NASA policy and procedures (14 CFR subpart 3 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Bonneville International Corporation is posted on the Copyright Office website at http:// www.copyright.gov/carp/bonneville-notice.pdf. 4 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Susquehanna Radio Corp. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http:// www.copyright.gov/carp/susquehanna-notice.pdf. 5 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit RealNetworks, Inc. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/ realnetworks-notice.pdf. 6 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Clear Channel Communications, Inc. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http:// www.copyright.gov/carp/clearchannel-notice.pdf. VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:06 Jan 04, 2006 Jkt 208001 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). ACTION: Notice of availability of Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS) for the Development of Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems. AGENCY: 7 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit America Online, Inc. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/aolnotice.pdf. 8 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Beethoven Radio is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/ beethoven-notice.pdf. 9 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit MTV Networks is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/mtv-notice.pdf. 10 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Microsoft Corporation is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/ microsoft-notice.pdf. 11 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Live365, Inc. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/live365-notice.pdf. 12 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Cox Radio Interactive is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/coxradionotice.pdf. 13 A copy of the Notice of Intent to Audit Yahoo!, Inc. is posted on the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/carp/yahoo-notice.pdf. PO 00000 Frm 00046 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 625 1216.3), NASA has prepared and issued a DPEIS for the proposed development of two new types of advanced Radioisotope Power Systems (RPSs), the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) and the Stirling Radioisotope Generator (SRG). The purpose of this proposed action is to develop advanced power systems, specifically the MMRTG and the SRG, that would enable a broad range of longterm space exploration missions and would be able to function in the environments encountered in space and on the surfaces of planets, moons, and other solar system bodies that have an atmosphere. Included in this proposed action are NASA’s long-term research and development (R&D) activities focused on alternative radioisotope power systems and power conversion technologies. The long-term R&D activities could include, but not necessarily be limited to, improvements to further increase the versatility of future RPS designs, expanding their capability and the environments in which they can operate. The long-term R&D activities are also expected to include activities to develop RPS designs with smaller electric outputs and efforts to reduce the mass of power conversion systems to further improve specific power (watts of electrical power per unit of mass). Such long-term R&D activities do not involve the use of radioactive material. The only alternative to the Proposed Action considered in detail is the No Action Alternative, where NASA would discontinue development efforts for the production of the MMRTG and the SRG and would continue to consider the use of currently available RPSs, such as the General Purpose Heat SourceRadioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (GPHS–RTG), for future exploration missions. As with the Proposed Action, NASA’s long-term R&D activities on alternative radioisotope power systems and power conversion technologies would continue. DATES: Written comments on the DPEIS must be received by NASA on or before February 20, 2006, or 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notice of availability of the DPEIS for the Development of Advanced Radioisotope Power Systems, whichever is later. ADDRESSES: Comments submitted via first class, registered, or certified mail should be addressed to Dr. Ajay Misra, Science Mission Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW., Washington, DC E:\FR\FM\05JAN1.SGM 05JAN1 626 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 3 / Thursday, January 5, 2006 / Notices 20546–0001. Comments submitted via express mail, a commercial deliverer, or courier service should be addressed to Dr. Ajay Misra, Science Mission Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, Attn: Receiving & Inspection (Rear of Building), NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20024–3210. While hard copy comments are preferred, comments by electronic mail may be sent to rpseis@nasa.gov. The DPEIS may be reviewed at the following locations: (a) NASA Headquarters, Library, Room 1J20, 300 E Street, SW., Washington, DC 20546. (b) NASA, NASA Information Center, Glenn Research Center, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135 (216–433–2755). (c) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Visitors Lobby, Building 249, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109 (818–354– 5179). In addition, hard copies of the DPEIS may be examined at other NASA Centers (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below). A limited number of hard copies of the DPEIS are available, on a first request basis, by contacting Dr. Ajay Misra at the above address or telephone number indicated below. The DPEIS also is available in Acrobat portable document format at http:// spacescience.nasa.gov/admin/pubs/ rps/. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Ajay Misra, Science Mission Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20546–0001, telephone 202–358–1588, or electronic mail rpseis@nasa.gov. NASA, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), proposes to: (1) Develop in the near-term and qualify for flight two advanced RPSs, the MMRTG and the SRG. The MMRTG and the SRG would be able to satisfy a broader range of future space exploration missions than are currently possible with existing radioisotope power technologies, specifically the GPHS–RTG used on the Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and the planned New Horizons missions. (The GPHS generates heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 dioxide, a nonweapons isotope of plutonium, for conversion to electricity.) The advanced RPSs would be capable of providing long-term, reliable electrical power to spacecraft and function in the environments encountered in space and on the surfaces of planets, moons and cchase on PROD1PC60 with NOTICES SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:06 Jan 04, 2006 Jkt 208001 other solar system bodies that have an atmosphere (e.g., Mars, Venus, Pluto, and two moons of Saturn (Titan and Enceladus)). The RTGs used on NASA’s Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and the planned New Horizons missions employ the GPHS module developed by DOE, fueled by plutonium dioxide (consisting mostly of plutonium-238), as a heat source. The advanced RPS designs would generate power from the heat given off by an enhanced version of the GPHS module; and (2) Continue NASA’s long-term R&D of alternative radioisotope power systems and power converter technologies. These long-term R&D efforts are addressed under both the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative as these efforts will continue irrespective of the alternative selected by NASA. Such R&D activities do not involve use of radioactive material. The MMRTG would build upon spaceflight-proven passive thermoelectric power conversion technology while incorporating improvements to allow extended operation on solar system bodies that have an atmosphere. Both the MMRTG and the SRG configurations, as proposed, would consist of three basic elements: the enhanced GPHS heat source, the converter, and an outer case with a heat radiator. The converter thermocouple that would be employed in the MMRTG has a history of use in diverse environments. The converter thermocouple design is based on the Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP)–19 RTG, which was used successfully on the Viking Mars Landers and the Pioneer spacecrafts in the 1970’s. For the SRG, NASA, in cooperation with DOE, would develop a new dynamic power conversion system based on the Stirling engine. The Stirling conversion system would convert the heat from the decay of plutonium into electrical power much more efficiently than the MMRTG and therefore use considerably less plutonium dioxide to generate comparable amounts of electrical power. Because the SRG uses less plutonium dioxide than the MMRTG, the SRG generates less waste (excess) heat. Therefore, an SRG also may be beneficial for missions where excess heat would adversely impact spacecraft operation, but perhaps undesirable for missions where excess heat from the RPS is needed for warming spacecraft components. An RPS generates electrical power by converting the heat released from the nuclear decay of radioisotopes, such as plutonium-238, into electricity. First used in space by the U.S. in 1961, these PO 00000 Frm 00047 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 devices have consistently demonstrated unique capabilities over other types of space power systems for applications up to several hundred watts of electric power. Radioisotopes can also serve as a versatile energy source for heating and maintaining the temperature of sensitive electronics in space. A key advantage of using RPSs is their ability to operate continuously, both further away from and closer to the Sun than other existing space power technologies. RPSs are long-lived, rugged, compact, highly reliable, and relatively insensitive to radiation and other environmental effects. As such, they enable missions involving long-lived, autonomous operations in the extreme conditions of space and the surfaces of solar system bodies. The GPHS–RTG, used on the ongoing Cassini mission to Saturn and the planned New Horizons mission to Pluto, is an RPS that is capable of operating in the vacuum of space; however, it has limited capabilities for operating on surface missions where an atmosphere is present. With the appropriate design, such as on the SNAP–19 RTG for the Viking missions, an RPS would have the capability to function in a wider range of surface conditions than the GPHS–RTG. Current energy production and storage technologies available to NASA, such as batteries, solar arrays, and fuel cells are unable to deliver the reliable electric power needed for some types of missions. The existing GPHS–RTG used on previous orbital missions has limited applicability on surfaces that have an atmosphere. The performance of the GPHS–RTG, which is designed to operate un-sealed in space vacuum, degrades in most atmospheres and does not provide the long-term operating capabilities desired for surface missions. In addition, the GPHS–RTG provides power in the upper 200’s watts of electricity (We). NASA envisions the need for lower levels of electric power (approximately 100 We), and physically smaller power systems, enabling NASA to more efficiently fly smaller missions that require less power than that provided by the GPHS–RTG. The advanced RPS designs are considered modular units. Thus one or more of these devices could be fitted to a spacecraft for a mission requiring higher levels of electric power. The advanced RPSs would enable missions with substantial longevity, flexibility, and greater scientific exploration capability. Some possibilities are: 1. Comprehensive and detailed planetary investigations creating comparative data sets of the outer planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, E:\FR\FM\05JAN1.SGM 05JAN1 cchase on PROD1PC60 with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 3 / Thursday, January 5, 2006 / Notices Neptune and Pluto and their moons. The knowledge gained from these data sets would be vital to understanding other recently discovered planetary systems and general principles of planetary formation. 2. Comprehensive exploration of the surfaces and interiors of comets, possibly including returned samples to better understand the building blocks of our solar system and ingredients contributing to the origin of life. 3. Expanded capabilities for surface and on-orbit exploration, and potential sample return missions to Mars and other planetary bodies to greatly improve our understanding of planetary processes, particularly those affecting the potential for life. NASA’s long-term R&D efforts involving alternative radioisotope power systems and power converter technologies are on-going activities. These ongoing R&D activities focus on longer-term improvements to RPSs that are less technologically developed than the MMRTG and SRG. Included are technologies that increase specific power (electrical power output per unit mass); increase efficiencies for power conversion technologies; improve modularity; increase reliability, lifetime, and operability; and provide improved capability to operate in harsh environments. These advancements would provide for greater power system flexibility enabling use in more places in space and on solar system bodies. The R&D efforts directed at power conversion technologies have applicability to both radioisotope and non-radioisotope power systems. The results of this R&D could be applied to improve the MMRTG or SRG design, to facilitate evolutionary RPS designs including RPS designs with smaller electrical outputs using GPHSs or radioisotope heater units, and to improve non-radiological power systems. Future fabrication of fueled RPSs, qualification units (used to demonstrate the readiness of a design for flight applications) and flight units, stemming from this R&D would be the subject of future NEPA documentation. The long-term R&D activities are addressed under both the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative as these efforts would continue independent of the alternative selected by NASA. In addition, NASA will continue to evaluate power systems developed independently by other organizations for their viability in spacebased applications. As such, the discussion of longer-term R&D is for completeness and descriptive purposes only. VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:06 Jan 04, 2006 Jkt 208001 It is anticipated that development and test activities involving the use of radioisotopes would be performed at existing DOE sites that routinely perform similar activities. DOE currently imports from Russia plutonium dioxide needed to support NASA activities. Radioisotope fuel processing and fabrication would likely occur at existing facilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which are currently used for the fabrication of the fuel for the GPHS modules. The advanced RPS assembly and testing would likely be performed at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Any required additional safety testing (using a non-radioactive fuel substitute to simulate the mechanical properties of the plutonium dioxide fuel) of an advanced RPS could be performed at one or more of several existing facilities; including DOE facilities such as LANL and Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or U.S. Army facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland. Currently, DOE is considering plans to consolidate operations for the domestic production of plutonium at its INL facility; the NEPA process for this action is on-going (70 FR 38132). NASA holds no stake in the decision ultimately taken by DOE related to consolidation of its long-term production of plutonium-238. NASA’s Proposed Action or implementation of the No Action Alternative is independent of the decision that will be made by DOE after that NEPA process is completed. Activities not requiring the use of radioisotopes and associated with the development, testing, and verification of the power conversion systems could be performed at several existing facilities including NASA facilities (such as the Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, Cleveland, Ohio and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California) and several commercial facilities (Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, California; Teledyne Energy Systems, Hunt Valley, Maryland; Infinia Corporation, Kennewick, Washington; Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems, Newtown, Pennsylvania; and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania). The only alternative to the Proposed Action considered in detail, the No Action Alternative, is to discontinue development efforts for the production of the MMRTG and SRG. NASA would continue to consider the use of available RPSs, such as the GPHS–RTG, for future solar system exploration missions. PO 00000 Frm 00048 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 627 While well suited to use in space, the GPHS–RTG would have substantially limited application on missions to the surface of solar system bodies where an atmosphere is present. In addition, DOE’s GPHS–RTG production line is no longer operative, including the Silicon/ Germanium thermocouple manufacturing operations. It may be possible to construct a limited number of GPHS–RTGs (one or two) from existing parts inventories, but longer term reliance on this technology would require the reactivation of these production capabilities, including reestablishing vendors for GPHS–RTG components, which could involve a substantial financial investment. The principal near- and mid-term activities associated with the Proposed Action and potential environmental impacts include: development of 100 We capable MMRTG and SRG units and demonstration of performance in flight qualified, fueled systems. Development of these systems requires component and integrated systems testing of unfueled units, acquisition of plutonium dioxide, fabrication of fuel, assembly of a fueled test RPS and safety and acceptance testing of that fueled RPS. Impacts from similar past activities associated with the GPHS–RTG used for the Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and the planned New Horizons mission to Pluto are well understood and have been documented in past NEPA documents. Potential environmental impacts associated with development of the flight-qualified MMRTG and the SRG would be similar to those associated with the GPHS–RTG and are expected to be within the envelope of previouslyprepared DOE NEPA documentation for the facilities that are involved in this effort. NASA’s ongoing long-term R&D activities for alternative power systems and advanced power conversion technologies are small-scale, laboratory activities. No radioisotopes are involved and only small quantities of hazardous materials might be involved. The potential for impacts on worker health, public health, and the environment from these R&D activities is small. Actual use of an MMRTG or SRG on a specific spacecraft proposed for launch from any U.S. launch site (e.g., Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Vandenberg Air Force Station) would be subject to missionspecific NASA NEPA documentation. Potential integrated system development (i.e., full system development requiring the integration of the RPS converter with a radioisotope fuel source) and production of any new generation of space-qualified RPSs E:\FR\FM\05JAN1.SGM 05JAN1 628 Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 3 / Thursday, January 5, 2006 / Notices (beyond the MMRTG and SRG) that results from the related long-term R&D of technologies (e.g., more efficient systems or systems producing smaller electrical power output), are beyond the scope of this DPEIS, and would be subject to separate NEPA documentation. The DPEIS may be examined at the following NASA locations by contacting the pertinent Freedom of Information Act Office: (a) NASA, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 (650–604– 1181). (b) NASA, Dryden Flight Research Center, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA 93523 (661–258–3449). (c) NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (301–286–6255). (d) NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058 (281–483–8612). (e) NASA, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899 (321–867–9280). (f) NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681 (757–864–2497). (g) NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812 (256–544– 2030). (h) NASA, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (228–688–2164). Any person, organization, or governmental body or agency interested in receiving a copy of NASA’s Record of Decision after it is rendered should so indicate by mail or electronic mail to Dr. Misra at the addresses provided above. Written public input and comments on alternatives and environmental issues and concerns associated with the proposed development of the MMRTG or SRG are hereby requested. Jeffrey E. Sutton, Assistant Administrator for Infrastructure and Administration. [FR Doc. E5–8280 Filed 1–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510–13–P NUCLEAR WASTE TECHNICAL REVIEW BOARD cchase on PROD1PC60 with NOTICES Board Meetings: February 1, 2006— Las Vegas, NV; The U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board Will Meet To Discuss Technical and Scientific Issues Related to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Efforts To Develop a Repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada Pursuant to its authority under section 5051 of Public Law 100–203, Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987, the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board will meet in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Wednesday, VerDate Aug<31>2005 17:06 Jan 04, 2006 Jkt 208001 February 1, 2006. The Board was charged in the Nuclear Waste Amendments Act of 1987 with conducting an independent review of the technical and scientific validity of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) activities related to disposing of, packaging, and transporting spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. At the meeting, the Board will review DOE efforts to develop a fundamental understanding of phenomena that would affect radionuclide releases from a proposed repository for permanent disposal of the waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. A final meeting agenda will be available on the Board’s Web site (http:// www.nwtrb.gov) approximately one week before the meeting date. The agenda also may be obtained by telephone request at that time. The meeting will be open to the public, and opportunities for public comment will be provided. The meeting will be held at the Desert Research Institute; 755 East Flamingo Road; Las Vegas, Nevada 89119; telephone 702–862–5307; fax 702–862– 5362. The meeting will begin at 8 a.m. and will continue until approximately 6 p.m. The meeting agenda will focus on DOE predictions and understanding of fundamental scientific and technical phenomena that affect the flux of water and radionuclides through the unsaturated zone, repository tunnels, and the saturated zone. Geochemical controls on potential radionuclide releases from the waste packages, the NRC’s perspective on dose standards beyond 10,000 years, and risk-informed performance assessment also will be discussed. Time will be set aside at the end of the day for public comments. Those wanting to speak are encouraged to sign the ‘‘Public Comment Register’’ at the check-in table. A time limit may have to be set on individual remarks, but written comments of any length may be submitted for the record. Transcripts of the meetings will be available on the Board’s Web site, by email, on computer disk, and on a library-loan basis in paper format from Davonya Barnes of the Board’s staff, beginning on February 25, 2006. A block of rooms has been reserved for meeting participants at the Palms Casino Resort; 4321 West Flamingo Road; Las Vegas, Nevada 89103; telephone 702–942–7777; fax 702–942– 7001. When making a reservation, please state that you are attending the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board meeting. Reservations should be made PO 00000 Frm 00049 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 by January 6, 2006, to ensure receiving the meeting rate. For more information, contact Karyn Severson, NWTRB External Affairs; 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1300; Arlington, VA 22201–3367; 703–235– 4473; fax 703–235–4495. Dated: December 30, 2005. William D. Barnard, Executive Director, Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. [FR Doc. 06–84 Filed 1–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820–AM–M POSTAL RATE COMMISSION Plant Tours Postal Rate Commission. Notice of Commission tours. AGENCY: ACTION: SUMMARY: Postal Rate Commissioners and advisory staff members will tour postal and mailers’ facilities in January. The purpose of the tours is to observe mailing operations DATES: 1. Friday, January 6, 2006: U.S. Postal Service bulk mail facility, Largo, Maryland. 2. Tuesday, January 10, 2006: U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail processing area, Dulles, Virginia postal facility. 3. Thursday, January 12, 2006: FedEx mail processing operations, Memphis, Tennessee. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen L. Sharfman, General Counsel, Postal Rate Commission, (202) 789– 6818. Garry J. Sikora, Acting Secretary. [FR Doc. 06–67 Filed 1–4–06; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710–FW–M RAILROAD RETIREMENT BOARD Actuarial Advisory Committee With Respect to the Railroad Retirement Account; Notice of Public Meeting Notice is hereby given in accordance with Public Law 92–463 that the Actuarial Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on January 23, 2006, at 11:30 a.m. at the office of the Chief Actuary of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, 844 North Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois, on the conduct of the 23rd Actuarial Valuation of the Railroad Retirement System. The agenda for this meeting will include a discussion of the assumptions to be used in the 23rd Actuarial Valuation. A report containing recommended assumptions and the experience on which the E:\FR\FM\05JAN1.SGM 05JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 71, Number 3 (Thursday, January 5, 2006)]
[Notices]
[Pages 625-628]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E5-8280]


=======================================================================
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NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

[Notice (05-177)]


National Environmental Policy Act; Advanced Radioisotope Power 
Systems

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

ACTION: Notice of availability of Draft Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement (DPEIS) for the Development of Advanced Radioisotope 
Power Systems.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, as 
amended (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on Environmental 
Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA 
(40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and NASA policy and procedures (14 CFR 
subpart 1216.3), NASA has prepared and issued a DPEIS for the proposed 
development of two new types of advanced Radioisotope Power Systems 
(RPSs), the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) 
and the Stirling Radioisotope Generator (SRG).
    The purpose of this proposed action is to develop advanced power 
systems, specifically the MMRTG and the SRG, that would enable a broad 
range of long-term space exploration missions and would be able to 
function in the environments encountered in space and on the surfaces 
of planets, moons, and other solar system bodies that have an 
atmosphere. Included in this proposed action are NASA's long-term 
research and development (R&D) activities focused on alternative 
radioisotope power systems and power conversion technologies. The long-
term R&D activities could include, but not necessarily be limited to, 
improvements to further increase the versatility of future RPS designs, 
expanding their capability and the environments in which they can 
operate. The long-term R&D activities are also expected to include 
activities to develop RPS designs with smaller electric outputs and 
efforts to reduce the mass of power conversion systems to further 
improve specific power (watts of electrical power per unit of mass). 
Such long-term R&D activities do not involve the use of radioactive 
material.
    The only alternative to the Proposed Action considered in detail is 
the No Action Alternative, where NASA would discontinue development 
efforts for the production of the MMRTG and the SRG and would continue 
to consider the use of currently available RPSs, such as the General 
Purpose Heat Source-Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (GPHS-RTG), 
for future exploration missions. As with the Proposed Action, NASA's 
long-term R&D activities on alternative radioisotope power systems and 
power conversion technologies would continue.

DATES: Written comments on the DPEIS must be received by NASA on or 
before February 20, 2006, or 45 days from the date of publication in 
the Federal Register of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notice 
of availability of the DPEIS for the Development of Advanced 
Radioisotope Power Systems, whichever is later.

ADDRESSES: Comments submitted via first class, registered, or certified 
mail should be addressed to Dr. Ajay Misra, Science Mission 
Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street 
SW., Washington, DC

[[Page 626]]

20546-0001. Comments submitted via express mail, a commercial 
deliverer, or courier service should be addressed to Dr. Ajay Misra, 
Science Mission Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, Attn: Receiving 
& Inspection (Rear of Building), NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20024-3210. While hard copy comments are preferred, 
comments by electronic mail may be sent to rpseis@nasa.gov.
    The DPEIS may be reviewed at the following locations:
    (a) NASA Headquarters, Library, Room 1J20, 300 E Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20546.
    (b) NASA, NASA Information Center, Glenn Research Center, 21000 
Brookpark Road, Cleveland, OH 44135 (216-433-2755).
    (c) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Visitors Lobby, Building 249, 4800 
Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109 (818-354-5179).
    In addition, hard copies of the DPEIS may be examined at other NASA 
Centers (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below).
    A limited number of hard copies of the DPEIS are available, on a 
first request basis, by contacting Dr. Ajay Misra at the above address 
or telephone number indicated below. The DPEIS also is available in 
Acrobat[reg] portable document format at http://spacescience.nasa.gov/
admin/pubs/ rps/.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Ajay Misra, Science Mission 
Directorate, Mail Code 3C67, Room 3N36, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street 
SW., Washington, DC 20546-0001, telephone 202-358-1588, or electronic 
mail rpseis@nasa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NASA, in cooperation with the U.S. 
Department of Energy (DOE), proposes to:
    (1) Develop in the near-term and qualify for flight two advanced 
RPSs, the MMRTG and the SRG. The MMRTG and the SRG would be able to 
satisfy a broader range of future space exploration missions than are 
currently possible with existing radioisotope power technologies, 
specifically the GPHS-RTG used on the Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and 
the planned New Horizons missions. (The GPHS generates heat from the 
radioactive decay of plutonium-238 dioxide, a non-weapons isotope of 
plutonium, for conversion to electricity.) The advanced RPSs would be 
capable of providing long-term, reliable electrical power to spacecraft 
and function in the environments encountered in space and on the 
surfaces of planets, moons and other solar system bodies that have an 
atmosphere (e.g., Mars, Venus, Pluto, and two moons of Saturn (Titan 
and Enceladus)). The RTGs used on NASA's Galileo, Ulysses, Cassini, and 
the planned New Horizons missions employ the GPHS module developed by 
DOE, fueled by plutonium dioxide (consisting mostly of plutonium-238), 
as a heat source. The advanced RPS designs would generate power from 
the heat given off by an enhanced version of the GPHS module; and
    (2) Continue NASA's long-term R&D of alternative radioisotope power 
systems and power converter technologies. These long-term R&D efforts 
are addressed under both the Proposed Action and the No Action 
Alternative as these efforts will continue irrespective of the 
alternative selected by NASA. Such R&D activities do not involve use of 
radioactive material.
    The MMRTG would build upon spaceflight-proven passive 
thermoelectric power conversion technology while incorporating 
improvements to allow extended operation on solar system bodies that 
have an atmosphere. Both the MMRTG and the SRG configurations, as 
proposed, would consist of three basic elements: the enhanced GPHS heat 
source, the converter, and an outer case with a heat radiator. The 
converter thermocouple that would be employed in the MMRTG has a 
history of use in diverse environments. The converter thermocouple 
design is based on the Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power (SNAP)-19 
RTG, which was used successfully on the Viking Mars Landers and the 
Pioneer spacecrafts in the 1970's. For the SRG, NASA, in cooperation 
with DOE, would develop a new dynamic power conversion system based on 
the Stirling engine. The Stirling conversion system would convert the 
heat from the decay of plutonium into electrical power much more 
efficiently than the MMRTG and therefore use considerably less 
plutonium dioxide to generate comparable amounts of electrical power. 
Because the SRG uses less plutonium dioxide than the MMRTG, the SRG 
generates less waste (excess) heat. Therefore, an SRG also may be 
beneficial for missions where excess heat would adversely impact 
spacecraft operation, but perhaps undesirable for missions where excess 
heat from the RPS is needed for warming spacecraft components.
    An RPS generates electrical power by converting the heat released 
from the nuclear decay of radioisotopes, such as plutonium-238, into 
electricity. First used in space by the U.S. in 1961, these devices 
have consistently demonstrated unique capabilities over other types of 
space power systems for applications up to several hundred watts of 
electric power. Radioisotopes can also serve as a versatile energy 
source for heating and maintaining the temperature of sensitive 
electronics in space. A key advantage of using RPSs is their ability to 
operate continuously, both further away from and closer to the Sun than 
other existing space power technologies. RPSs are long-lived, rugged, 
compact, highly reliable, and relatively insensitive to radiation and 
other environmental effects. As such, they enable missions involving 
long-lived, autonomous operations in the extreme conditions of space 
and the surfaces of solar system bodies. The GPHS-RTG, used on the 
ongoing Cassini mission to Saturn and the planned New Horizons mission 
to Pluto, is an RPS that is capable of operating in the vacuum of 
space; however, it has limited capabilities for operating on surface 
missions where an atmosphere is present. With the appropriate design, 
such as on the SNAP-19 RTG for the Viking missions, an RPS would have 
the capability to function in a wider range of surface conditions than 
the GPHS-RTG.
    Current energy production and storage technologies available to 
NASA, such as batteries, solar arrays, and fuel cells are unable to 
deliver the reliable electric power needed for some types of missions. 
The existing GPHS-RTG used on previous orbital missions has limited 
applicability on surfaces that have an atmosphere. The performance of 
the GPHS-RTG, which is designed to operate un-sealed in space vacuum, 
degrades in most atmospheres and does not provide the long-term 
operating capabilities desired for surface missions. In addition, the 
GPHS-RTG provides power in the upper 200's watts of electricity 
(We). NASA envisions the need for lower levels of electric 
power (approximately 100 We), and physically smaller power 
systems, enabling NASA to more efficiently fly smaller missions that 
require less power than that provided by the GPHS-RTG. The advanced RPS 
designs are considered modular units. Thus one or more of these devices 
could be fitted to a spacecraft for a mission requiring higher levels 
of electric power.
    The advanced RPSs would enable missions with substantial longevity, 
flexibility, and greater scientific exploration capability. Some 
possibilities are:
    1. Comprehensive and detailed planetary investigations creating 
comparative data sets of the outer planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus,

[[Page 627]]

Neptune and Pluto and their moons. The knowledge gained from these data 
sets would be vital to understanding other recently discovered 
planetary systems and general principles of planetary formation.
    2. Comprehensive exploration of the surfaces and interiors of 
comets, possibly including returned samples to better understand the 
building blocks of our solar system and ingredients contributing to the 
origin of life.
    3. Expanded capabilities for surface and on-orbit exploration, and 
potential sample return missions to Mars and other planetary bodies to 
greatly improve our understanding of planetary processes, particularly 
those affecting the potential for life.
    NASA's long-term R&D efforts involving alternative radioisotope 
power systems and power converter technologies are on-going activities. 
These ongoing R&D activities focus on longer-term improvements to RPSs 
that are less technologically developed than the MMRTG and SRG. 
Included are technologies that increase specific power (electrical 
power output per unit mass); increase efficiencies for power conversion 
technologies; improve modularity; increase reliability, lifetime, and 
operability; and provide improved capability to operate in harsh 
environments. These advancements would provide for greater power system 
flexibility enabling use in more places in space and on solar system 
bodies. The R&D efforts directed at power conversion technologies have 
applicability to both radioisotope and non-radioisotope power systems. 
The results of this R&D could be applied to improve the MMRTG or SRG 
design, to facilitate evolutionary RPS designs including RPS designs 
with smaller electrical outputs using GPHSs or radioisotope heater 
units, and to improve non-radiological power systems. Future 
fabrication of fueled RPSs, qualification units (used to demonstrate 
the readiness of a design for flight applications) and flight units, 
stemming from this R&D would be the subject of future NEPA 
documentation. The long-term R&D activities are addressed under both 
the Proposed Action and the No Action Alternative as these efforts 
would continue independent of the alternative selected by NASA. In 
addition, NASA will continue to evaluate power systems developed 
independently by other organizations for their viability in space-based 
applications. As such, the discussion of longer-term R&D is for 
completeness and descriptive purposes only.
    It is anticipated that development and test activities involving 
the use of radioisotopes would be performed at existing DOE sites that 
routinely perform similar activities. DOE currently imports from Russia 
plutonium dioxide needed to support NASA activities. Radioisotope fuel 
processing and fabrication would likely occur at existing facilities at 
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, New Mexico, which 
are currently used for the fabrication of the fuel for the GPHS 
modules. The advanced RPS assembly and testing would likely be 
performed at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), west of Idaho Falls, 
Idaho. Any required additional safety testing (using a non-radioactive 
fuel substitute to simulate the mechanical properties of the plutonium 
dioxide fuel) of an advanced RPS could be performed at one or more of 
several existing facilities; including DOE facilities such as LANL and 
Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico, or U.S. Army 
facilities at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland. Currently, 
DOE is considering plans to consolidate operations for the domestic 
production of plutonium at its INL facility; the NEPA process for this 
action is on-going (70 FR 38132). NASA holds no stake in the decision 
ultimately taken by DOE related to consolidation of its long-term 
production of plutonium-238. NASA's Proposed Action or implementation 
of the No Action Alternative is independent of the decision that will 
be made by DOE after that NEPA process is completed.
    Activities not requiring the use of radioisotopes and associated 
with the development, testing, and verification of the power conversion 
systems could be performed at several existing facilities including 
NASA facilities (such as the Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, 
Cleveland, Ohio and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, 
California) and several commercial facilities (Pratt & Whitney 
Rocketdyne, Canoga Park, California; Teledyne Energy Systems, Hunt 
Valley, Maryland; Infinia Corporation, Kennewick, Washington; Lockheed 
Martin Commercial Space Systems, Newtown, Pennsylvania; and Lockheed 
Martin Space Systems Company, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania).
    The only alternative to the Proposed Action considered in detail, 
the No Action Alternative, is to discontinue development efforts for 
the production of the MMRTG and SRG. NASA would continue to consider 
the use of available RPSs, such as the GPHS-RTG, for future solar 
system exploration missions. While well suited to use in space, the 
GPHS-RTG would have substantially limited application on missions to 
the surface of solar system bodies where an atmosphere is present. In 
addition, DOE's GPHS-RTG production line is no longer operative, 
including the Silicon/Germanium thermocouple manufacturing operations. 
It may be possible to construct a limited number of GPHS-RTGs (one or 
two) from existing parts inventories, but longer term reliance on this 
technology would require the reactivation of these production 
capabilities, including reestablishing vendors for GPHS-RTG components, 
which could involve a substantial financial investment.
    The principal near- and mid-term activities associated with the 
Proposed Action and potential environmental impacts include: 
development of 100 We capable MMRTG and SRG units and 
demonstration of performance in flight qualified, fueled systems. 
Development of these systems requires component and integrated systems 
testing of unfueled units, acquisition of plutonium dioxide, 
fabrication of fuel, assembly of a fueled test RPS and safety and 
acceptance testing of that fueled RPS. Impacts from similar past 
activities associated with the GPHS-RTG used for the Galileo, Ulysses, 
Cassini, and the planned New Horizons mission to Pluto are well 
understood and have been documented in past NEPA documents. Potential 
environmental impacts associated with development of the flight-
qualified MMRTG and the SRG would be similar to those associated with 
the GPHS-RTG and are expected to be within the envelope of previously-
prepared DOE NEPA documentation for the facilities that are involved in 
this effort.
    NASA's ongoing long-term R&D activities for alternative power 
systems and advanced power conversion technologies are small-scale, 
laboratory activities. No radioisotopes are involved and only small 
quantities of hazardous materials might be involved. The potential for 
impacts on worker health, public health, and the environment from these 
R&D activities is small.
    Actual use of an MMRTG or SRG on a specific spacecraft proposed for 
launch from any U.S. launch site (e.g., Kennedy Space Center/Cape 
Canaveral Air Force Station, Vandenberg Air Force Station) would be 
subject to mission-specific NASA NEPA documentation. Potential 
integrated system development (i.e., full system development requiring 
the integration of the RPS converter with a radioisotope fuel source) 
and production of any new generation of space-qualified RPSs

[[Page 628]]

(beyond the MMRTG and SRG) that results from the related long-term R&D 
of technologies (e.g., more efficient systems or systems producing 
smaller electrical power output), are beyond the scope of this DPEIS, 
and would be subject to separate NEPA documentation.
    The DPEIS may be examined at the following NASA locations by 
contacting the pertinent Freedom of Information Act Office:
    (a) NASA, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 (650-604-
1181).
    (b) NASA, Dryden Flight Research Center, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA 
93523 (661-258-3449).
    (c) NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, 
MD 20771 (301-286-6255).
    (d) NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058 (281-483-8612).
    (e) NASA, Kennedy Space Center, FL 32899 (321-867-9280).
    (f) NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681 (757-864-
2497).
    (g) NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812 (256-
544-2030).
    (h) NASA, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (228-688-2164).
    Any person, organization, or governmental body or agency interested 
in receiving a copy of NASA's Record of Decision after it is rendered 
should so indicate by mail or electronic mail to Dr. Misra at the 
addresses provided above.
    Written public input and comments on alternatives and environmental 
issues and concerns associated with the proposed development of the 
MMRTG or SRG are hereby requested.

Jeffrey E. Sutton,
Assistant Administrator for Infrastructure and Administration.
 [FR Doc. E5-8280 Filed 1-4-06; 8:45 am]
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