Russia Says Its Nuclear-Powered Space Tug Can Detect, Disable & Shoot-Down Enemy Spacecraft From The Orbit

The Russian nuclear-powered tug Zeus, which is equipped with a megawatt-class electric propulsion system, can be used to disable control systems of enemy spacecraft with an electromagnetic impulse and “shoot” laser beams, according to a paper of the Arsenal design bureau, part of Russia’s Roscosmos.

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In May, the Keldysh Research Center released a paper showing that Zeus can be used in anti-aircraft defense, detecting air targets from the orbit and relaying information to anti-aircraft systems.

“In 2018-2019, the Arsenal design bureau conducted the ‘Yadro’ [Core] research project that reviewed options for using a spacecraft with a megawatt-class nuclear power propulsion system to perform the following tasks — probing the Earth surface and the near-Earth air space from a distance; electromagnetic interference with electronic components of control, reconnaissance, communication and navigation systems; directed-energy laser emission,” the Arsenal paper read.

The Zeus nuclear-powered space tug is designed for deep space flights from one orbit to another. It has been in development since 2010. The spacecraft’s preliminary design is expected to be finished by July 2024 and will cost 4.2 billion rubles.

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Earlier, the Russian Keldysh Research Center said that it plans to test a drip refrigerator-emitter for the nuclear-powered tug on board the International Space Station (ISS), new data on the state procurement website shows.

The new tests on board the ISS will follow the unsuccessful drip refrigerator-emitter experiment carried out in 2014, when an abrupt failure of some technological components did not, nonetheless, prevent scientists from collecting valuable data.

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The Zeus nuclear-powered space tug designed for deep space flights from one orbit to another has been in development since 2010 in Russia. The nuclear-propelled space tug is designed to fly to the moon and planets of the solar system to search for extraterrestrial life. All the scientific and research and development works on the project are called Nuklon.

A prototype of Zeus was first exhibited at the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2019. A 3D animation of its deployment in orbit was shown at the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2020.

The preliminary design of Zeus is expected to be finished by July 2024 and will cost 4.2 billion rubles ($57.3 million). The tug is expected to be sent into space for test flights in 2030.

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