Russian Deep Space Nuclear Rocket Gets Funding Boost

Nuclear Rocket Gets 3.81 billion rubles ($60 USD) for 2016-2018

The Topaz-1 space reactor. © A. Solomonov / Sputnik

Back in 2010, Russia launched a  nuclear rocket engine project that would be the centerpiece for deep space exploration missions to the moon and Mars. By 2012, an engineering design had been created and an initial budget estimated at 20 billion rubles (about $274 million USD) had been allocated.

​The idea was that a megawatt-class nuclear rocket would enable the pursuit of a wide range of space exploration tasks, including research programs on the moon and distant planets as well as establishing automated bases on them.

In fact, the head of Rosatom nuclear corporation Sergey Kirienko believes a nuclear rocket could propel explorers to Mars in as little as 6 weeks. As Kirienko said:

A nuclear power unit makes it possible to reach Mars in a matter of one to one and a half months, providing capability for maneuvering and acceleration. Today's engines can only reach Mars in a year and a half, without the possibility of return.

And now, according to Sputnik News, the project to create a nuclear-power transport module, intended to fly to the moon and Mars, will receive 3.81 billion rubles ($60 million) in funding in 2016-2018.

The new project involves the use of ion engines, where thrust is created by accelerating ion gas through magnetic fields for propulsion.

The nuclear reactor delivers the electric current required for this process, and radioactive substances do not make contact with the external environment. It is assumed that xenon will be used as the working fluid in the engine.

RELATED: Russia's Space Nuclear Engine Receives Fuel​

It has been reported that a prototype nuclear drive could start testing by 2018. 

Source: Sputnik News

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