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Russian Academy of Sciences Researcher Refutes U.S. Hoax About Russian Nuclear Arms in Space

Nathan Eismont, a leading researcher at the Space Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences said that Zeus, a nuclear-powered space vehicle, is not a weapon against satellites and is not a nuclear weapon, he told RIA Novosti today, reported Pravda in English. Zeus is a space transport facility, a space tug, as they call it, propelled by electric engines and powered by a nuclear source. Its official title is Transport and Energy Model (TEM).

Regarding the U.S. accusation, Eismont stated, “It’s not relevant. A nuclear tug is a normal reactor, not very large, of which there are many on earth and which are used to generate electrical energy, and it’s the same there (in space). He has nothing to do with nuclear weapons.”

The electric propulsion systems heat up and accelerate ionized gas to create a thrust-generating jet and, therefore, are alternatively known as ion or plasma engines. When measured per unit of spent propellant mass, electric engines are more efficient than traditional liquid or solid-propellant rockets, but their thrust is relatively low at any given time and they require a great deal of electric power to operate. Because of this, until recently, the practical use of electric propulsion in space flight was mostly limited to orbit adjustment systems aboard satellites or to deep-space missions, in which spacecraft could take advantage of low thrust over very long periods of time.

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