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Russia approves $17 mn to design nuke spacecraft

An artist's conception of the nuclear-powered spacecraft which Russia plans to design. File photo

MOSCOW (PTI): Russian government has allocated $17 million for the development of a spaceship with nuclear powered engine.

Under a cabinet decree issued on December 29, 2009, in all 500 million roubles ($17 million) are being allocated to the RosAtom State Nuclear Corporation and the Federal Space Agency Roskosmos this year for a project to develop nuclear engine for spacecraft, RIA Novosti reported.

Earlier, Russia's space chief Anatoly Perminov had said the nuclear engines for spaceships were a very promising area and should be developed for flights to Mars and other planets.

He said the development of Megawatt-class nuclear space power systems (MCNSPS) for manned spacecraft was crucial if Russia wanted to maintain a competitive edge in the space race, including exploration of the Moon and Mars.

The draft design of a spacecraft powered by a nuclear propulsion system would be finalised by 2012, and would require an investment of at least 17 billion roubles (over $580 million) in next nine years.

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