Roscosmos State Space Corporation stated recently that by the end of this year it will sign a contract to design the Nuklon space complex, which includes a space tug fitted with a nuclear reactor. Its first mission is scheduled for 2030, said the director of advanced programs and science at Roscosmos, Alexander Bloshenko to TASS.
Bloshenko told TASS news agency that "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."
There are two stages of the mission set to start in 2030. First, 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. Second, Nuklon will head to Venus, with the possibility of being re-fuelled with xenon on the way.
The mission will begin right away in 2030 as a "full-fledged scientific mission" instead of a test launch, Bloshenko told the news agency. This tug would be capable of generating energy in the autonomous mode, with the help of a megawatt-class nuclear reactor, he added.
"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.