The Titan IV rocket is not "notoriously unstable" but the safest launch vehicle of its size in Nasa's repertoire. One pound of plutonium, released by a launch failure would, says Ms Roddick, expose everyone on Earth to "deadly radiation". This is mere playing with words. Launch failure might (improbably) release plutonium: true. Everyone would get a dose of the resultant radiation: true or at least unfalsifiable. Radiation is deadly: true - but not in these tiny doses.
Forty Chernobyl-class reactors are still operating in the former USSR. The Russian Northern Fleet's submarines are disinte-grating into radioactive rust. Several hundred kilos of weapons- grade uranium goes missing every year. There are more important things to worry about than a single space probe.
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