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Nuclear Electric Spacecraft Propulsion

For Future Space Near Term Lunar, Deep Space and Planetary Missions

07-21-10/ 4-20-11

The eventual launch of large demonstration technology nuclear powered electric propulsion platform spacecraft for deep space missions is also part of the long term planning for the RUS-M booster series in addition to the OPSEK space station concept. Russia has already suggested strongly that it would like joint US and Russian development of such a propulsion system. To date no official US government or NASA response has been registered on the suggestion. Russia is going forward with the "draft design" development through to finalization in 2012. The Russian government has allocated 500 million Rubles {$16.7 million] in 2011 through 2012 for the Russian State-run nuclear corporation Rosatom. Final development over a 9-10 year period would require 17 billion Rubles [$580 million]. Such a "Draft Design" project would exhibit 150-500 KW reactor possible as early as 2020.

Whether these new ambitious launch vehicle programs and its new launch infrastructure come to fruition depends in large part on the economic reality of the Russian economy to support its fulfillment in the face of the present world economic crisis. These decisions now being prepared will be critical to the real things that will get funded to happen in the next five year planning cycle 2011-2015. The U. S. abandoned its efforts in this capability development in 2003. It need to be remembered that cooperative though separated nuclear development between the U.S. and Russia have lead to various nuclear reactor powered spacecraft project by both countries but never have they fully come together on a full joint project such as is being proposed. It is not the first time such an effort has been suggested at various times.

The U. S. must also return to such developments in either nuclear rocket or nuclear electric propulsion and power systems if its proposed lunar deep space and planetary missions rare to become a viable reality beyond the required heavy lift booster capability NASA is pursuing.

Subsequently the Russian Federation Space Agency and NASA had a meeting on April 15, 2011 that included a discussion on the nuclear-powered spaceship project development that is also open to international cooperation development. Such nation as Germany, France, Japan and China that have experience in producing nuclear reactor technology are also to be briefed along the way of what is at present a Russian Federation Space Agency, Science and Technology initiatives for at least a "Draft Project" leading to a "Technical Project" proposal. That 'Draft Design" Project proposal for review and consideration by all that are involved is to be completed in 2012.

That is a design consideration proposal final design for the "technical project" proposal for community development leading the follow up program divided into "Working Documentation" followed by "Test Samples and Official State Testing" to flights that is then followed by "Production of the final improved product" for space missionapplication.

The Russian Federation is concerned that its space effort must pursue this development in order to remain competitive in the international space field and that this megawatt class nuclear space power system was a critical part of that core effort in Russian S&T. The obvious intentions motivation is to learn from foreign S&T in a joint effort cooperative program for both's benefit that finally produces a flight man-rated tested nuclear power, propulsion systems keeping Russia in the international space efforts on the leading edge of technology as well as providing for Russian participation in both uncrewed and crewed lunar, deep-space and planetary missions.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2016 19:06:44 ZULU