From NK №788:
12/06/2009 / 00:05 – Russia will create a nuclear tug for interplanetary travel
Russia will revive a program to develop nuclear power plants for space purposes, the director of the RRC Kurchatov Institute, Mikhail Kovalchuk, said at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday.
“We need to create an atomic tug,” Kovalchuk said, recalling that in Soviet times there was a program to develop nuclear power plants; in particular the “Topaz” reactor was designed by the Kurchatov Institute.
“Using an atomic tug, you can save money for the future Russian lunar and Mars programs,” said the head of the institute. “This is a cheap way.”
According to him, the program was discussed with the management of RSC Energia, and a number of other space and nuclear institutions.
“We will reanimate these topics. We consider it as possibility to create not only engines, but also as energy sources (for spaceships).”
The Topaz reactor featured in Stephen Baxter’s Titan novel as a power source for the Space Shuttle on its mission to Saturn.
Energiya has another news report featuring ISS crews familiarizing themselves with the MIM-2 module, the next Russian module to be launched. A Buran – defunct Russian space shuttle – analog can be seen in the background of this photo. (It is the 3M [or OK-KS] full-size test model as seen on this page at Vassili’s Buran site, according to Anik.)