Space nuclear tug. TEM on MAX-2019

In our country, the development of the transport and energy module of the TEM with the megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system (YEDU) continues. The appearance of such a model suitable for operation will have a serious impact on the further development of domestic and world space exploration. In the meantime, TEM is at the design stage, and recently the public again showed the layout of such a product in its current form.



New TEM layout at MAX-2019. RIA Photo News / ria.ru


Exhibit MAX-2019


In recent years, various materials on TEM and NEDU for him have been repeatedly published. Among other things, the developers showed drawings with the possible appearance of such a sample. In late August, the first demonstration of the new TEM prototype, reflecting current views on this project, was held as part of the MAKS-2019 salon. The model was present in the Roscosmos pavilion at the Arsenal Design Bureau stand.

The current version of the appearance of TEM is markedly different from the previously demonstrated versions, but retains certain of their features. In particular, the general provisions of the assembly layout and design approaches have been retained. There are a number of characteristic differences.

The largest element of the breadboard module is a telescopic four-section round-section truss, which is the basis for the assembly of units. Its head part is equipped with a conical truss and a closed compartment. On the sides of the farm are fixed six panels of the cooling system. The tail compartment of the TEM is made in the form of a closed rectangular housing. The main farm is fixed on it in front, solar panels are on the sides. A new type of rocket engine and other units are placed in the body.

New and old


Earlier in the publications on the topic of TEM and YaEDU, images with a technique of a different appearance appeared. According to one of the later versions of the project, the transport and energy module should be based on a longitudinal sliding truss of square section and large elongation, which facilitates the launch of the product into orbit. In its head part, a compartment with a reactor is placed; in the tail part, an electric rocket engine and other systems located on the disclosed supports. Along the supporting farm it was planned to place cooling equipment.

The layout from Arsenal Design Bureau has a number of characteristic features and differs from older images. First of all, it is distinguished by the design of the main farm and the layout of the units. The new TEM version is characterized by a more massive carrier farm of a different design. He also lost the X-shaped tail beams, revealed in flight and carrying part of the instruments.

Layout design allows for a layout change. Perhaps now a large tail housing accommodates not only an electric rocket engine, but also a nuclear reactor with associated systems. In this case, the smaller head housing can be used to accommodate control systems or other equipment.

Different designs previously featured differing cooling system configurations. The same applies to the new layout. This time, it is proposed to use six emitter panels installed along the truss in the form of three parallel “planes” to radiate excess heat into space. Other cooler configurations were previously proposed, including aggregates of a larger area, occupying almost the entire length of the supporting truss.

In November last year, the Roskosmos television studio published a video showing the possible look of the future TEM with nuclear power plants. This version of the module was very different from those shown earlier. While maintaining a linear architecture based on a sliding truss, such a TEM had to have tail units made in the form of an open cylinder. In this form, it was necessary to perform a power plant, cooling, etc.

Space nuclear tug. TEM on MAX-2019
An early version of the TEM layout. Figure RSC Energia / kosmolenta.com


It is easy to see that the current TEM layout differs from the “last year” version of the look. Moreover, in its appearance and design, it is much closer to earlier versions of the project.

Technical tasks


The TEM project is of the highest technical complexity and for its successful implementation it is necessary to solve a lot of special problems. To create such a module, new designs of units and assemblies, new technologies and materials with special characteristics are needed. The need to solve all these problems has led to the development of nuclear power plants and TEMs carried out by a number of enterprises from Roskosmos and Rosatom.

At different times in the published materials there were different versions of TEM, and the reason for this can be considered precisely the overall complexity of the project. Success in finding solutions to various problems led to corresponding changes in the overall appearance of the module. Accordingly, the latest TEM model from Arsenal Design Bureau shows current views on the project.

According to well-known data, a gas-cooled fast neutron reactor was chosen as the basis for nuclear power generation. The helium-xenon mixture will be used in the primary circuit of the cooling system. Fuel with a high degree of enrichment will be placed in the active zone. The core temperature will reach 1500 ° K. It is planned to provide the highest resource of design, allowing to operate TEM during 10-12 years.

Nuclear power plants of this kind and with such characteristics have not yet been created and operated. For the construction of such a design, materials with high resistance to thermal and mechanical loads are required. It is also necessary to work out the design itself, so that at the required power it would have acceptable dimensions and weight.

There are difficulties in the field of cooling systems. A megawatt-class NEDF should dissipate comparable volumes of thermal energy into space. Modern radiators for space technology can not yet boast of such characteristics. So, the ISS cooling system throws into space approx. 70 kW of thermal energy is many times less than that required for nuclear power plants and TEM.

Various versions of coolers for TEM are being developed, which is reflected in the figures and during the assembly of models. Apparently, the set of flat radiators on the layout from Arsenal is currently considered the most profitable design with optimal characteristics. However, it is quite possible that this system will not be the final option.

Despite all the difficulties, significant success has been achieved in the framework of the TEM project. So, several years ago, tests began on the ID-500 electric rocket engine, created specifically for the future nuclear power plant. In 2017, such a product worked at the 300 watch stand, showing the power of 35 kW.


TEM sample of 2018. Frame from the video studio "Roscosmos"


The assembly and testing of the individual components of the nuclear power system and TEM are regularly carried out. For example, last year we tested a prototype of a drip cooling system. Other components of the reactor, auxiliary systems, and the transport and energy module as a whole are being developed.

Transport of the distant future


The purpose of the current projects of nuclear power and nuclear power engineering and TEM is to create a promising complex that can provide a solution to new problems in outer space. The transport and energy module with a reactor and an electric rocket engine will have important advantages over missile systems of traditional designs and will successfully organize new missions.

The main field of application of TEM is considered to be flights to other celestial bodies. NEDU shows the highest fuel efficiency and has a unique specific impulse, which simplifies flights to the Moon or Mars. There is also the opportunity to increase the payload compared to current space systems. An important feature of TEM is the possibility of power supply of the load due to the standard means of the module.

However, obtaining such results is possible only in the distant future. According to current plans, flight tests of TEMs in full package will begin no earlier than the end of the twenties. Launching the operation and bringing the module to real work is possible only in the early thirties.

Work on the TEM will continue for several years, and during this time the project may undergo noticeable changes. In this regard, we can assume that the layout of the module for MAX-2019 will soon cease to reflect the real appearance of the product being created. However, a change in views on the structure and its elements will lead to the appearance of new demonstration materials - already at the next exhibitions.
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  1. Thrifty 6 September 2019 05: 29 New
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    Said famously, there will be no good. Of the models that we demonstrate at the exhibitions, it is easy to build a space fleet. The other thing is that we really started to bring it to life. ..
    1. Mountain shooter 6 September 2019 06: 35 New
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      Quote: Thrifty
      The other thing is that we really started to bring it to life. ..

      An electric rocket engine with a power of 40 kW was tested. I saw it with my own eyes. In that very Moscow. Mai. Impressive The resource is really 300 hours. "Grids" are triggered accelerator. There is a selection of materials and improvement of the design. Apparently, other people are engaged in a nuclear reactor.
      1. Blackmokona 6 September 2019 11: 00 New
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        300 hours for erd is not enough
        For example, the existing Russian SPD-100 has a resource of 7500 hours.
        A tugboat needs a minimum of 20 thousand
        1. Mountain shooter 6 September 2019 13: 07 New
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          Quote: BlackMokona
          For example, the existing Russian SPD-100 has a resource of 7500 hours.

          Only the power is different. Absolutely. This engine at a power of 1 kW will also work 15000 hours!
          1. Blackmokona 6 September 2019 13: 40 New
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            So the engine is much larger and heavier. Immediately 100 kilowatts are pumped not into the SPD-40. The most important thing is that with 300 hours, the project can generally be closed. Who will change the engines after each operation to move the orbit? Here either an ordinal buildup, or there is no sense in the project
      2. samaravega 6 September 2019 13: 03 New
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        Everything that Ryabov Kirill writes must be either critically evaluated, or, if lazy, divided by at least 10, or even 100. It’s not just that this sandpiper praises its swamp, although it praises it stupidly and clumsily. On this topic. With these nuclear "Poseidons", "Petrels", "Lomonosovs" did everyone go crazy? Even in the “great and indestructible” USSR, after the fall of a satellite from a nuclear power plant in Canada and Chernobyl, nuclear power was very cautious. Projects of torpedoes, planes and missiles with nuclear engines were abandoned even earlier, at a time when Sakharov was engaged in "superbombs" and the like, and not "a struggle for peace." Moreover, they refused almost simultaneously in the USSR and in the USA. What changed? Has the half-life of uranium or plutonium been reduced to days? Have radioactive cesium, iodine, and other elements become beneficial to humans? Biological protection has disappeared, alpha, beta and gamma radiation "strengthens the tan"? In fact, they impose on us (namely, they don’t offer) FOR OUR MONEY (taxes) to make hundreds of devices (units of ammunition, unmanned aerial vehicles, etc.), which even without SAT are EXTREMELY DANGEROUS, and if applied (conducting tests, exercises) are uniquely "dirty." Of all the above, a nuclear engine in space is the safest, although together with Roscosmos, Rogozin and a drill, they can "surpass" Fukushima and Chernobyl together.
        1. ser56 6 September 2019 15: 52 New
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          Why fly to other planets? hi give everything to pensioners ... bully
          1. samaravega 6 September 2019 16: 24 New
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            Not all. We’ll leave the drill, and then there’s nothing to blame, why it didn’t reach other planets. Yes, and I would like to objection to the point. Or will we wait for another explosion near Nenoksa?
            1. ser56 6 September 2019 18: 33 New
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              Quote: samaravega
              Yes, and I would like objections on the merits

              all the objections in the article - to fly even to Mars on chemical fuel is utopia, but with such a tugboat - completely! hi And not three years, but three months ... request As for danger - until the reactor was turned on - there is only fuel - fresh uranium, it is not dangerous ...
        2. shinobi 26 November 2019 20: 14 New
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          There are no prospects in large space without atomic power plants. On most long-term satellites there are atomic electro-thermal modules. You can’t even imagine how many radioactive materials fly above our heads, and for quite some time. Development of nuclear power plants for airplanes, cruise missiles, torpedoes they were carried out until the range of ballistic missiles did not allow guaranteed to reach the enemy. As soon as it became possible, the projects froze. With the advent of the "partners" of missile defense systems, the topic of guaranteed defeat it became relevant again and dust was blown away from the projects. Poseidon and Burevestnik, weapons of political intimidation and vryatli will be produced in significant numbers. It’s like at one time with the Tsar Bomb and the charge of the same Poseidon is comparable in power to it. Then one demonstration was enough in order to put the United States at the negotiating table, it will be the same now. In the tugboat reactor, new developments are always needed, at least in terms of R&D, and it does not matter at all from which year the concept of ideas and whether they will be embodied in metal.
          1. samaravega 3 December 2019 17: 34 New
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            On radioactive materials above our head, can we specifically? With the indication of the satellite, the country of the owner, launch date, date of termination of operation with an explanation of where the satellite was divided, roughly "burial orbit" or "dense layers"? For all the satellites of the USSR with nuclear power plants on board, information is not even in the "Internet", but in official books. Is there anything to add specifically? Or, again, blah blah blah?
            1. shinobi 5 December 2019 12: 20 New
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              if you are aware of USSR satellites, Cosmos military serials, what are you blah blah blah blasting about? What is the burial orbit also in the know, or why only part of the space debris is burned in the atmosphere and drown?
    2. astepanov 8 September 2019 21: 24 New
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      Quote: Thrifty
      The other thing is that we really started to bring it to life. ..

      Like what? It was originally intended to build a flight prototype in 2022 - 2023 (google "Megawatt-class Transport and Energy Module). The deadlines are moving at a pace a year and a half a year. We got to the end of the thirties - but the reports are getting more cheerful, and Mr. Rogozin - more optimistic. Guess when it all ends? I suggest: never. And they probably began to realize it, according to our old tradition.
  2. sergo1914 6 September 2019 05: 53 New
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    There is a good prototype. Nostromo.
    1. garri-lin 6 September 2019 09: 33 New
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      Nah, there everybody runs on the ceiling.
  3. Amateur 6 September 2019 06: 14 New
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    Let us announce a competition among the readers of VO for the best drawing of a model of a space nuclear tug. Prize - the opportunity to use foul language addressed to Roscosmos. wassat
    1. Ka-52 6 September 2019 06: 38 New
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      Let us announce a competition among the readers of VO for the best drawing of a model of a space nuclear tug. Prize - the opportunity to use foul language addressed to Roscosmos

      It would be better to have announced a competitive task who will last longer without stupid comments on VO. I think this is a much more difficult task and most local “experts” will not even qualify laughing
      1. Astronaut 6 September 2019 10: 27 New
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        I fully support it, because this nonsense is already impossible to read and smart comments among it are lost !!!
        1. Amateur 6 September 2019 13: 59 New
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          I fully support it, because this nonsense is already impossible to read and smart comments among it are lost !!!

          So write something clever about the layout and picture. I enjoy reading. recourse
    2. The comment was deleted.
  4. The comment was deleted.
  5. AAK
    AAK 6 September 2019 09: 30 New
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    Looking at the extreme image is not clear, "Roskosmos" stole the idea from "Avatar" or "Avatar" from "Roskosmos" ... :)))
    1. albert 6 September 2019 22: 58 New
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      Cameron for Avatar himself stole the idea from Karl Sagan.
  6. Hog
    Hog 6 September 2019 10: 40 New
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    Well, another 50 billion will be requested for it, and then it turns out that they could not be created, but the budget funds were fully utilized)))
    1. bnm.99 6 September 2019 13: 00 New
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      Do you think you don’t have to do anything?
      1. Hog
        Hog 6 September 2019 15: 37 New
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        You just have to do it, but by what’s going on in Roskosmos, business is not visible.
    2. ser56 6 September 2019 15: 53 New
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      Quote: Hog
      Well, another 50 billion will be requested

      let money rot better in gold reserves? bully
      1. Hog
        Hog 6 September 2019 17: 15 New
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        let money rot better in gold reserves?

        That's right, why goodness disappears in vain, maybe someone will buy a yacht or something else.
    3. vka
      vka 6 September 2019 20: 35 New
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      and new technologies, materials, etc. are what we don’t need
      1. Hog
        Hog 6 September 2019 20: 54 New
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        technologies, materials

        But what does Roskosmos have to do with it?
  7. vargo 6 September 2019 21: 45 New
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    First, a little about the comments on VO:
    Recently, the quality of comments has fallen so sharply that it’s just disgusting to read. Previously, however, discussions were more detailed. And now, "Ug, plundered, Rogozin down, Bugag ugaga" And so on.
    It is as if they form the image of "Roskosmos - evil, Rogozin - the leader of evil." And the problem is not that in part they may be right. And the fact is that the slogans are only about the fact that they are right not in part, but completely and unconditionally !! As if there is no other opinion and judgment.
    Either they don’t see from their blindness, or they don’t want to, they only see the bad, they remember only the bad, they begin to believe in their own lies and carry nonsense.
    It's disgusting to read such! And believe me, when I read sound criticism with details and arguments, I always accept it. But chatter and "bugag", it's not here, please!

    And according to the articleI am delighted to follow the changes in this project. The project can be said to be significant. Many have already been launched into space, but the road to remote parts of space is inaccessible to us, without decent power.
    This installation is only the beginning, but the most important step. Only such engines and power will allow us to master in space, not only as a guest for a couple of days. If on Earth we can get liquid fuel in many places. Logistics already allows us to do this. But in space, fuel delivery alone will cost several times more. And there only compact energy sources are possible. In the meantime, only nuclear fuel.
    And this is, after all, probably an obvious step, an obvious step in the development of space exploration (and even space exploration), it is obvious that it is necessary, but all development in capacities rested against the wall, and barely moves. Like an obvious step, they do not want to see or walk.
    In this regard, the fact that such a project is developing in Russia gives our country very great prospects for development and earnings. I'm not talking about technological solutions, which can also be very interesting on Earth. It is in our country that nuclear energy is developing very well. And perhaps it is Russia and lead such a project. Give a new leap in development for space exploration!
    Yes, there were problems and the fall of radioactive parts to Canada, this is not something to brag about. However, unfortunately, not without experience in errors. I think those mistakes were largely due to rush. In any case, it is precisely in this sense of experience that we have a lot more experience, to whom, no matter how we bring it to mind!
    1. astepanov 8 September 2019 22: 01 New
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      But is this thing necessary at all? Let's count.
      The mass of figs is 20,3 tons, but this is without load. Suppose she carries a spacecraft weighing 3 tons, this is not very much. For manned long-range expeditions, more is needed, to Mars, say - at least 30 tons. Total minimum weight - 23 tons. With a thrust of 18 N, we obtain an acceleration in zero gravity of less than 0,783 mm / s / s. Is it a lot or a little? In a day, the speed will increase by 67,62 m / s, in a month it will reach 2 km / s - this is when moving in deep space. And when starting from near-Earth orbit, the traction force will not only perform work to increase kinetic energy, but also against gravity - and therefore acceleration will be even slower. This means that a month after starting from near-Earth orbit, the tug will still unwind the spiral around the earth, rising higher. You can specifically calculate the time for which, for example, the orbit of the moon will be reached - but let others do it. I'm lazy.
      In a year, the device will reach a speed of 24,5 km / s, i.e. taking into account the initial zero radial component, the average annual speed will be no more than 12,2 km / s. But in reality - less, because it will have to fly to Mars or Jupiter against the gravity of the Sun. Again, with a payload weight of 30 tons (for example, a manned flight to Mars), the acceleration will be 0,36 mm / s / s - less than 1 km / s per month! - and this even without taking into account the attraction of the Sun! It looks sad somehow. Against the background of this calculation, the joyful cries of the inevitability of great victories look unconvincing.
      1. vargo 9 September 2019 16: 16 New
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        Not going into details of calculations. The question will be logical. Is there anything more convenient? Do installations now produce more speed? On the same principles. You also did not consider the possibility of long-term operation, the ability to power equipment with high energy consumption. All this is not available there now, and you are only about one example. It’s all the same if you all this time in the forest for your needs were powered by a solar battery, and now you have 1 megawatt, and the possibilities increase dramatically. Isn't energy the development factor here? Any ideas are limited by power. Always so, unfortunately. And the more power we can provide there, the more we can do.
        1. astepanov 9 September 2019 17: 47 New
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          Quote: vargo
          Not going into details of calculations.

          And what will I answer you if you ignore the calculations? So far I see you have one argument - you want this thing to fly and fly well. I also want to. But what is the use of our Wishlist? Moreover, desire is a weak argument, in contrast to the laws of mechanics. Of course, it can be assumed that I considered it wrong, but Newton’s second law is not the kind of physics with which you can get a little naughty and messy.
          1. vargo 9 September 2019 21: 50 New
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            I do not ignore the calculations. I mean, in these calculations, I, unfortunately, will not be able to be your worthy opponent or, on the contrary, support your arguments. I'm not so good at it. But in my theses about the duration of work and the peak power in orbit (or outside the orbit), there is still something that I “want”. I do not think that you will completely deny this moment.
            I can’t also give arguments in favor of the expression, but among the articles there is a phrase about “Up to Mars in a month, with the possibility of return”. I know that sometimes in a fit of imagination they can write a lot, but still, I think, this expression is based on something.
            1. astepanov 9 September 2019 23: 26 New
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              I think that a real space tug has not yet been built. A prototype is being built on which technologies will be developed in the very near space, no further than the orbit around the Earth - more than one year. In order to obtain overwhelming advantages over "chemistry", it will be necessary to increase the specific power of the power plant - and this is very difficult. Already 3,8 MW of thermal power per 15 tons of reactor - crazy power! Probably, they plan to increase the efficiency of radiators - and this can be done by replacing, for example, heavy bismuth with light alloys of sodium or lithium. Alkali metals have high corrosive activity, therefore this task is very difficult. In general, the idea is incredibly complex and very beautiful, and the people who work on it can be envied for good. But it seems to me that the conversations
              Quote: vargo
              about "To Mars in a month, with the possibility of return"
              do not relate to the construction, but to the future car. I also think that a real working model will fly into deep space (and only there its advantages will manifest in full) not earlier than the end of the fifties. And I’m unlikely to live up to this.
              1. Falcon5555 10 September 2019 20: 32 New
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                It has long been known that thrusters - and this one will be from this category - do not significantly speed up the flight to Mars. I did not go into the details of your calculation, but the essence does not contradict the known. The only thing: when lifting the orbit, while the ship has not reached the departure path, the speed usually decreases, but does not increase. That is, the engine will work to accelerate, and the device will move away from the Earth and slow down, oddly enough. But the "characteristic speed" will increase.
                The time to reach the orbit of the moon will also be enormous. Such an apparatus can repeatedly wander between the orbits of the Moon and the Earth with low fuel costs, but each flight will be very long, and most likely unmanned.
                How many unmanned cargo are we sending to the orbit of the moon? Yes, not at all!
                How many stations do we send to Mars? I remember - there was Phobos-Grunt, who did not want to fly anywhere.
                Why do we need a twenty-ton nuclear tug? This is Oblomovism (fruitless daydreaming) and propaganda. Why not a similar tug with solar panels? Environmentally friendly? Which can be done now? Most likely, over time, this nuclear "megawatt class" will be quietly forgotten, that's all.
                1. Falcon5555 11 September 2019 10: 58 New
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                  Olepyatka: Manilovism, not Oblomovism (this is a slightly different literary character). Although now you can apply another metaphor - Medvedevschina.
  8. Karabas 7 September 2019 00: 26 New
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    In this regard, we can assume that the layout of the module for MAX-2019 will soon cease to reflect the real appearance of the product being created.

    It will be so. What layout they piled up, they immediately slap the sphere onil, the dimensions are the same. laughing
    I will add that while there is no alternative to this engine, if we want to fly somewhere. Therefore, it is necessary to refine, since the gravitap is not given in any way winked
  9. yehat 27 September 2019 16: 08 New
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    Quote: BlackMokona
    Here either an ordinal buildup, or there is no sense in the project

    always start somewhere
    the average mileage of the T-34 before failure from 40 km in 1941 was increased by the end of the war to 600
    and the tank was essentially the same
  10. ont65 9 October 2019 12: 29 New
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    A new one, which has no analogues, usually undergoes more than one transformation even before being embodied in metal, especially in space engineering, where each gram is specially registered. This then rolled-in solution is adopted by all those who are interested in saving their own money, but here there is no place to wait for help, even you and I will have little use.
  11. leon1204id 22 December 2019 11: 39 New
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    Hello everybody. The article is all about what was already in print. The change in the appearance of the product speaks to the awkward thoughts of the designers. There is still no final decision, even in appearance. I was interested in the topic of the efficiency of the nuclear installation. Now the highest efficiency is about 40%. The fuel elements will melt at 1700. Between the illuminated part of the spacecraft and the shadow temperature difference 400-500 and more. Is it really necessary to heat the cosmos, is it really impossible to transform this good into electricity? hi