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To Mars on a shoestring – a nuclear powered shoestring

The words Russia and nuclear always stoke the fires of hacks who hark back to the cold war. But this time the finger hovering over the red button will be launching a rocket to Mars, rather than a missile to end civilisation.

So news that Russia is planning a nuclear-powered rocket to get men to Mars (and back again?) has got widespread attention. The report comes from Russian news agency who have a short account of Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov’s address to a meeting of the commission on the modernization of the Russian economy. The spacecraft is still being designed, Perminov is reported as saying, with final plans finished by 2012. The cost will be at least 17 billion rubles, or $580 million.

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