Russia Drops Plans to Create Nuclear Space Engine

Russian space agency shuts down work on developing a nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft

Fri, Apr 24, 2015
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The scientific and technical research on the powerful propulsion systems of prospective spacecraft will continue until 2018

MOSCOW, April 24, (TASS) - Russia’s space agency Roscosmos is planning to shut down works on developing a megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft, a source in the rocket and space sector told TASS on Friday.

"The new draft of the Federal Space Program for 2016-2025 envisages the closure of all the research and development works on creating high power nuclear propulsion systems," he said.

The scientific and technical research on the powerful propulsion systems of prospective spacecraft will continue until 2018, without switching to the scientific research work under the program "Nuclear Power Propulsion System-2025," the document says.

The draft program no more envisages the works on development and ground tests of the key elements and technologies of the nuclear power propulsion systems of up to 500 kW for orbital transfer vehicle and interplanetary spacecraft.

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Roscosmos and the Keldysh Research Center, which has been working on developing the systems, have not yet commented on the reports to TASS.

The works on creating a transport energy module based on a megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system were approved by the Russian presidential commission for modernization and technological development of the country’s economy in 2009 and began a year later.

In 2012, a technical plan was fulfilled and in 2015 the power propulsion system was due to be created. By 2018, the module was expected to be ready for flight tests. Some 20 billion rubles ($392.3 million) were to be allocated for the project implementation, including 17 billion rubles in budget funds.

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