Russia to start work on space reactors

26 November 2010

Russia's Energia space corporation is planning to start work next year on standardized space modules with nuclear-powered propulsion systems, RIA Novosti reported. The first launches, with a capacity of 150 to 500 kilowatts, could be made some time in 2020, according to Energia director Vitaly Lopota. Development of megawatt-class nuclear space power systems (MCNSPS) for manned spacecraft is crucial if Russia wants to maintain a competitive edge in the space race, including the exploration of the moon and Mars, said Anatoly Perminov, director of the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos. The project will require funding of some 17 billion roubles ($540 million). Energia earlier said that it is ready to design a space-based nuclear power station with a service life of 10-15 years, to be initially placed on the moon or Mars. It is also working on a concept of a nuclear-powered space tug, which could be used for launching satellites.