Moscow. September 29. INTERFAX.RU – Russia is several years ahead of competitors in the development of nuclear space energy technologies, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Over the past years, we have made significant progress in the development of unique technologies for nuclear space energy. According to experts, Russia is ahead of all our competitors in this area, ahead of the whole world by six to seven years. scientific research in the field of astronautics, to accelerate the practical implementation of promising technological solutions, “Putin said on Wednesday at a meeting on the development of the space industry.
Nuclear power plant “Zeus”
The development of a megawatt-class nuclear power plant started in the Russian Federation in 2010. It is planned to use it in an orbital tug designed to study the Moon and deep space. The development is carried out by the Keldysh Center, initially the completion of the installation was planned for 2015, and the first flight of the tugboat – for 2018, however, the dates were postponed several times.
In December 2020, the head of the Roscosmos state corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, announced that the Russian orbital nuclear power plant would be named Zeus.
On May 22, the executive director of Roskosmos for promising programs and science, Alexander Bloshenko, announced that the first launch using the Zeus orbital nuclear installation would take place in 2030.
On December 11, the head of Roskosmos announced that promising Russian ships and orbital stations could receive nuclear power plants.
“Without nuclear power in space, full-fledged exploration and exploration of deep space is impossible. This is our key to large-scale scientific missions to Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the planets of deep space. In addition, it could potentially even be a source for supplying energy to promising orbital systems and complexes.” – said Rogozin.
As reported, Roskosmos signed a contract with the Avangard Design Bureau for the development of a preliminary design for the Nuclon complex with a nuclear power plant.
According to the government procurement portal, the contract was signed between Roscosmos and the Avangard design bureau. According to the contract, the work must be completed by November 15, 2022. 4.17 billion rubles were allocated for it. It is noted that the space complex under development can be used to search for minerals on the Moon and explore other planets.
Space tug “Nuclon”
In September 2020, Bloshenko announced that the state corporation was working on a project for a reusable nuclear-powered space tug, Nuclon. According to him, the device will be able to fly from Venus to Jupiter in one mission, and the very first launch of the probe will become a full-fledged scientific mission.
“We want to make a flight to the Moon, and in the same mission after the Moon to fly around Venus with the delivery of a satellite to it to obtain scientific data, and further transit of this apparatus towards Jupiter's satellites also with a certain payload,” Bloshenko said.
He said that the vehicle could be used as a tug to deliver payloads to distant points, and to power these loads.
Nuclear power has already been used in space: in the period from 1970 to 1988, 32 spacecraft with a thermoelectric nuclear power plant were launched in the USSR, and in the period from 1960 to 1980 a nuclear rocket engine was developed and tested at the Semipalatinsk test site.