November 24, 2010

Russia to develop nuclear-powered space engines

MOSCOW (PTI),brahmand : Russia is planning to start work on the development of nuclear-powered space engines next year, and their first launch could come in 2020, a space industry official has said.

CEO of Energia Space Corporation Vitaly Lopota Tuesday said the work on standardised space modules with nuclear-powered propulsion systems will begin in 2011.

"The first launches with a capacity of 150 to 500 KW nuclear engines could be made some time in 2020," Lopota was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

According to earlier reports the project will require an estimated funding of over USD 580 million.

Energia Space Corporation has also announced its readiness to design a space-based nuclear power station with a service life of 10-15 years for deployment on the moon  or Mars.

It is also working on a concept of a nuclear-powered space tug, which could more than halve satellite launching and orbiting costs.

Earlier, Chief of Federal space agency Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov had said the development of Megawatt-class nuclear space power systems (MCNSPS) for manned spacecraft was crucial if Russia wanted to maintain a competitive edge in the space race, including the lunar and Mars missions.

Since the Soviet days Russia has a rich experience in using nuclear reactors of the size of volleyball to power its Kosmos series spy satellites .

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