Russia Wants Nuclear-Powered Rocket to Go to Mars

The space race is on again: The Russians are planning a nuclear-powered spacecraft that will get them to Mars faster than Duck Dodgers in the 24 and a half century. Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov promises a design by 2012:

The project is aimed at implementing large-scale space exploration programs, including a manned mission to Mars, interplanetary travel, the creation and operation of planetary outposts. The implementation of this project will allow us to reach a new technological level surpassing foreign developments.

It would only take nine years to fully develop at the tune of $600 million, which is spare change compared to all the economy stimulus plans in place. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev—knowing that this will generate money and specialized jobs, not to mention pushing Russia to a new scientific and engineering level—has backed the project and wants the government to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the Guys With the Right Stuff are seeing their projects scrapped, with Constellation about to get cancelled, and the shuttle getting killed. Godspeed America, godspeed. Let's go to KFC and sink our hope in greasy chicken and cheap beer. [Yahoo via Universe Today]