Russia to provide NASA with nuclear fuel

Russia is set to start delivering nuclear fuel to the US space program beginning next year, an official with Russia's atomic energy ministry said Wednesday.

Russia is set to provide the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with plutonium-238 for five years, according to a 32-million-dollarmillion-euro) contract signed by the Russian and US energy departments, the official said.

"NASA needs this type of nuclear fuel after President (George W.) Bush's announcement that it had launched a program to develop a nuclear engine for rockets," the official said, quoted by ITAR-TASS news agency.

A nuclear-fueled engine would increase the speed at which rockets enter space, allowing rockets to reach Mars in two months rather than the current six, Russian scientist Nikolai Ponomaryov-Stepnoi told ITAR-TASS.

Zdroj: AFP