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Monday, December 21, 2009

Russia to start research on spacecraft nuclear engines next year


MOSCOW, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Russia will start next year research on nuclear engines for spacecraft, the head of Russia's Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said on Sunday.

"Nuclear engines for spaceships are a very promising area. Such engines should be created to make flights to Mars and other planets," said Anatoly Perminov at the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, as cited by the Russian news agencies.

"Russia will start research work from 2010 in this sphere," he added.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier that Russia will prioritize the development of nuclear energy, especially the use of nuclear technology in spacecraft.

Perminov also said previously that the development of Megawatt-class nuclear power systems for manned spacecraft was vital if Russia intends to maintain its leading position in the space industry.

He said the draft design of the spacecraft would be finished by 2012, and at least 17 billion rubles (more than 580 million U.S. dollars) were needed for further development over the next nine years.

Analysts believe the key scientific and technical problem in sending manned missions to the Moon and Mars is the development of new propulsion systems and energy supplies with a high degree of energy-mass efficiency.

Editor: Zhang Xiang

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