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Russia, US to discuss nuclear spaceship programme

An artistic illustration of a nuclear-powered spacecraft.

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia and the US will discuss next week the feasibility of designing a nuclear-powered spaceship that will fly in deep space missions, the Russian space agency chief has said.

The space agencies of the two countries, Roscosmos and NASA, will meet on April 15 to discuss the issue.

“We will be meeting with NASA, where among other issues, will discuss the further development of space activities, including the creation of a spacecraft with a nuclear power plant,” Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said.

He further added that the Americans have offered to hold a major conference in Moscow this year on this issue.

Both the countries have been working separately on designing the nuke spacecraft to conduct future interstellar and interplanetary missions.

The Russian Government has allocated funds to the Rosatom State Nuclear Corporation and Roscosmos for the project. The draft design of the spacecraft, to be powered by nuclear propulsion system, is expected to be finalised by 2012 and would require 17 billion roubles (over $580 million).

Perminov said Rosatom provides core funding for the project to create the new nuclear plant for the spacecraft. “We work closely (on a new nuclear engine for the space vehicles) with the research institutes of Rosatom,” he said.

According to Perminov, space missions for lunar orbit require new technologies and the only one in his opinion, the new engine option for the spacecraft is a nuclear power plant.

He expressed hope that work on the new engines would be completed by 2019.


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