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15:24 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Russia to start work on nuclear space engine next year

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Russia's Energia space corporation said on Tuesday it is planning to start working on standardized space modules with nuclear-powered propulsion systems next year.

Russia's Energia space corporation said on Tuesday it is planning to start working on standardized space modules with nuclear-powered propulsion systems next year.

Energia director Vitaly Lopota said the first launches with a capacity of 150 to 500 KW could be made some time in 2020.

Federal Space Agency Roscosmos director Anatoly Perminov previously 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 the exploration of the moon and Mars.

The project will require an estimated 17 billion rubles (over $580 million) in funding.

Energia earlier said it is also ready to design a space-based nuclear power station with a service life of 10-15 years, to be initially placed on the moon or Mars.

It is also working on a concept of a nuclear-powered space tug, which could more than halve satellite launching and orbiting costs.

KOROLYOV (Moscow region), November 23 (RIA Novosti)