Prototype Space Nuclear Engine To Be Revealed in 2018
Russia's state-run nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, has been developing a nuclear engine for spacecraft since 2010.
The space nuclear engine is touted as a megawatt-class nuclear electric propulsion system that includes a new and advanced nuclear reactor, which produces the heat necessary to create propulsion, as well as all the supporting systems, controls and radiation shielding.
According to a report by Sputnik News, the company announced this last Monday that it has now received its first batch of nuclear fuel for the engine.
There was no detail given as to the nature of the fuel, but according to Andrey Ivanov, a spokesman for Rosatom:
A unique fuel element has been constructed which allows the engine to work in high temperatures, in large temperature gradients, and high doses of radiation.
Russia believes a space nuclear engine is critical to the exploration of deep space. In fact, according Andrey Ionin of Russia's Tsiolkovskiy Cosmonautical Academy, the program envisions a wider plan for space exploration, which will guide the direction of the engine's construction.
It is clear that an atomic engine is necessary only for exploration of distant space. Projects like the creation of an atomic engine have to take place in the context of a larger project, in order to precisely understand what exactly we are making such a powerful energy source for.
Source: Sputnik News