Russia wants to build a new nuclear-powered spaceship for prospective manned space missions to the planet Mars and other more distant planets. So states Anatoly Perminov - Russian space chief stated on October 29th.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has backed the project and is urging the government to find the money needed to back the project.
These remarks were posted on the Russian space agency website. Perminov said that the nuclear spaceship preliminary design work could be done by 2012. It would take an additional 9-10 years to build the spacecraft and cost 17 billion rubles, which equal to about $600 million US dollars. The nuclear reactor that will be on this ship would be in the Megawatt power range. And the engines to be powered by this reactor would be a electric rocket engine. So says Igor Lisov who is a Moscow-base expert on the Russian space program.
"The project is aimed at implementing large-scale space exploration programs, including a manned mission to Mars, interplanetary travel, the creation and operation of planetary outposts." So stated Anatoly Perminov on the website.
The AP/Yahoo news article then went into the odd comparsion of Russian still using the 40-year old Soyuz design that are still used to send crews up to the International Space Station(ISS). Despite the older technology, Russia will take on a greater role in space exploration in the coming decade. Since NASA is planning on retiring the shuttle soon - and this will cause NASA to rely on the Russians and their Soyuz to travel up to the ISS until the Orion capsule is operational.
Ref. Yahoo new (October 29, 2009) by Vladimir Isachenkov of AP. "Russia hopes nuclear ship will fly humans to Mars"
image of Star Trek Enterprise starship USS Enterprise (http://www.fanpop.com/spots/star-trek-enterprise/images/3999066/title/nx-01-enterprise)