Russia plans to leapfrog Elon Musk’s “old tech” by developing nuclear-powered engines that will make human missions to Mars faster and safer for crews, the head of a research center told Russian media.
“Elon Musk is using the existing tech, developed a long time ago,” said Vladimir Koshlakov, head of the Keldysh Research Center. “He is a businessman; he took a solution that was already there, and applied it successfully. Notably, he is also doing his work with help from the government.”
Keldysh is working on a nuclear engines that will make human exploration of the Red Planet feasible within the near future, he added. The engines will allow cosmonauts to make the voyage in seven months.
“A person should not spend more than a year or two in space. Nuclear-powered spacecraft will allow a relatively fast journey, and, most importantly, a return flight. This technology has special significance for interplanetary flights and research of far planets,” Koshlakov said.
The Keldysh center has successfully conducted the first ground test of the nuclear engine’s cooling system, he added.
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