Russia to have nuclear spacecraft by 2012

Dec. 20, 2009 at 11:34 PM

KAZAKHSTAN, Russia, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The head of Russia's Federal Space Agency said Sunday nuclear engine-powered spacecraft would be finalized by 2012.

Anatoly Perminov said financing for the space program in the next nine years would require at least $580 million, RIA Novosti reported.

Perminov previously had said development of Megawatt-class nuclear space power systems for cosmonaut-manned spacecraft would be crucial if Russia is to maintain its competitive edge in the world's space theater, including exploration of Mars and the moon, the newspaper said.

The president of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics and head of the Keldysh research center, Anatoly Koroteyev, said the development of new propulsion systems and energy-mass efficient energy supplies is the major scientific and technical problem in sending manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

The current Russian space industry is clearly incapable of setting up a permanent base on the moon or of achieving an independent manned mission to Mars, Koroteyev said.

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