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Russia Makes Implicit Appeal to U.S. To Join Us and China in Peaceful Development of the Moon

On Sept. 20, 1963, in his address to the UN General Assembly, President John F. Kennedy, scarcely 11 months after the Cuban Missile Crisis, proposed a joint U.S./Soviet mission to the Moon, to expand new areas of cooperation. Kennedy’s proposal ended with his assassination, but collaboration between the U.S. and Soviet Union, and later Russia, continued in weakened form, in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project docking of July 1975 and the later construction and development of the International Space Station.

Much later, in 1989, nuclear space reactor collaboration began between the newly liberated Russia and the United States. At a scientific symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Russian scientists, led by Academician Dr. Nikolay N. Ponomarev-Stepnoy of the Kurchatov Institute, first described the TOPAZ-II reactor. U.S. engineers present recognized the commercial potential of the technology and succeeded in obtaining funding from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization to arrange for delivery and testing in Albuquerque of six functioning models, all very promising. Unfortunately, this promise was nipped in the bud in 1993 by the outgoing G.W. Bush administration.

Now, 30 years later, Putin having brought Russia back on its feet, Roscosmos space agency director Yori Borisov presented plans at the March 1-7 World Youth Festival for a plant to power the Russia/China space station that will be put on the Moon by 2036, using robotically delivered and assembled nuclear power. Ironically, for those still stuck in geopolitics, the reactor design is based on the joint U.S./Russian reactor TOPAZ II of the 1990s! Could we in the U.S. get our marbles back and collaborate in this effort?

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