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Russia’s Nuclear Cruise Missile Is Struggling To Take Off, Imagery Suggests via NPR

It’s a terrifying weapon: a nuclear-powered cruise missile that can fly anywhere on the planet, possibly spewing radioactivity as it goes. In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his nation had successfully tested just such a machine.

But new satellite imagery of a remote Russian test site suggests that the missile may not be working as well as claimed.

[…]

Both the U.S. and Russia have possessed nuclear-armed missiles for decades, but a nuclear-powered missile is different. Such a missile would fly using thrust from a small nuclear reactor.

“It essentially has an unlimited range because it’ll fly as long as the reactor is going,” Lewis says.

But a nuclear-powered missile also comes with more than a few problems. The U.S. briefly looked into the idea in the 1950s and 1960s. But a prototype engine produced exhaust that was highly radioactive.

“It was spewing lethal amounts of radioactivity the entire time,” Lewis says. In the end, he says, the U.S. decided it was a “crazy idea.”

Read more at Russia’s Nuclear Cruise Missile Is Struggling To Take Off, Imagery Suggests

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