MOSCOW, September 16. /TASS/. By the end of 2020, Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos will sign a contract to design the Nuklon space complex, which includes a space tug fitted with a nuclear reactor, said Alexander Bloshenko, the director of advanced programs and science at Roscosmos.
"The contract for preliminary design of the Nuklon space complex will be signed by the end of the year. It will include a space tug fitted with a nuclear reactor, to be used for missions to remote planets of the solar system. Its first mission is scheduled for 2030," Bloshenko told TASS.
The prospective space tug would have the capacity to generate energy in the autonomous mode, with the help of a megawatt-class nuclear reactor, he said.
Speaking about Nuklon’s first flight, the official said that instead of a test launch, Nuklon’s first journey would a "full-fledged scientific mission."
At the first stage of the mission in 2030, the space tug will dock with a payload module in space and will head to the Moon, where it will conduct its remote sensing and deliver a research satellite to the orbit.
At the second stage of the space journey, Nuklon will head to Venus, with the possibility of being re-fuelled with xenon on the way.
"Upon reaching Venus, a research satellite will also separate from the payload module, while the tug itself and the remaining scientific equipment will perform a gravity assist maneuver and embark upon the third stage of the mission: the journey to its ultimate destination point, which is one of Jupiter’s satellites," Bloshenko said.