Russian nuclear-powered space tug Zeus, currently under construction, will be sent on a mission to search for life in deep space once completed, Dmitry Rogozin, the director-general of the Russian state space agency Roscosmos, said on Tuesday.
The space tug fitted with a nuclear reactor is set to be used for missions to remote planets of the Solar System and beyond. It has been under development since 2010 and is expected to make its first space flight in 2030.
“Missions that will be sent to Mars, Venus and, in the future after the development of thermonuclear capabilities, beyond the solar system, the most important task will be to discover and understand whether we are alone in space or there is another life,” Rogozin said at the GLEX-2021 space conference.
The Roscosmos chief called the search for extraterrestrial life and the monitoring of space-borne threats to the Earth the most important tasks of world cosmonautics.
“Today, we have ensured the development of space monitoring programs, and this is of practical significance for how to avoid dangerous collisions in space. But there is another, even more important task — how to protect our planet from uninvited collisions with space bodies that can destroy the civilization,” Rogozin said, noting that there so far exists no technology capable of diverting the trajectory of space objects approaching the Earth.
The official also emphasized the significance of international cooperation in space, calling it “the highest form of politics and ethics” in the relations between nations.
The Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) is an annual event that gathers representatives of scientific circles, governments and industries since 2012. This year’s edition started on Monday in St. Petersburg and will end on Friday.