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Mystery surrounds Russia's new nuclear missile

Posted on Wednesday, 14 August, 2019 | Comment icon 33 comments

The US recently pulled out of a nuclear arms control pact with Russia. Image Credit: US Navy
A top-secret nuclear powered missile named 'Skyfall' is thought to have caused a recent fatal explosion.
The accident, which occurred on an offshore testing platform in the Arctic last Thursday, caused the deaths of five Russian nuclear engineers and produced a radiation spike in the surrounding area.

Exactly what the men had been working on at the time however has since remained a topic of some speculation, with the most likely culprit being the engine of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Known as Burevestnik (or 'Skyfall'), this devastating missile remains very secretive, however with a nuclear power source it is rumored to have 'unlimited range' and significant destructive potential.

"The Burevestnik is technically an intercontinental cruise missile," said Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow with the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House.

"It's a cruise missile, which means two things: it flies fast and it flies low, in comparison to an intercontinental ballistic missile that's somewhat slower on re-entry but flies very high."

As evidenced by the fatal explosion, such a missile also has the potential to be very problematic.

"There is speed versus the weight of the system, and the risk of a missile that spews radioactive exhaust wherever it goes," said Russia analyst Mark Galeotti. "These new systems have their origin in Soviet times - they've been taken off the shelves and given new investment."

The five men who died in the accident were Alexei Vyushin, Yevgeny Korotayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergei Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky.

They have been described as "heroes" who worked under "extraordinarily tough conditions."

At their funeral in Sarov, Rosatom chief Alexei Likhachev stated that "the best way to remember them is to continue our work on new types of weapon, which will be completed without fail."

Source: BBC News | Comments (33)

Tags: Russia, Rocket, Nuclear, Skyfall

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #24 Posted by Trelane on 15 August, 2019, 12:38
They are finally testing the Shagohod.
Comment icon #25 Posted by pallidin on 15 August, 2019, 18:32
Yes. This type of cruise missile uses a "scoop" to gather ambient atmospheric gases and compounds (normal cruise missles also use a scoop) It's then run through a turbine phase to compress and then present to the mini-nuclear reactor as a "heat-expansion propellant" Thus, the propellant supply is virtually unlimited, since the source is the ambient atmosphere. The reactor is almost entirely unshielded for weight issues, which necessarily causes the powerful expansive gases to become radioactive before exit. Major environmental concerns. Avionics (aviation-electronics) are very much affected by... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by RabidMongoose on 15 August, 2019, 21:26
If that is true then it sounds like a nuclear ramjet engine. Thats a hyper-sonic cruise missile, probably over Mach 10.
Comment icon #27 Posted by 3.0 on 17 August, 2019, 20:41
The US worked on this concept in the past, it was called Project Pluto!
Comment icon #28 Posted by and then on 17 August, 2019, 21:23
Imagine their dose when they FLY...  
Comment icon #29 Posted by and then on 17 August, 2019, 21:25
Yeah... and just imagine what problems the inevitable counter-measure will create.   
Comment icon #30 Posted by and then on 17 August, 2019, 21:30
He's absolutely correct.  To be a registered radiographer you need classes in X-Ray physics that are bare-bones basic and even I learned how overhyped radiation fears are.  You get a much higher dose of ionizing radiation from a cross-country flight than you do from a simple chest X-Ray, for example.  It's all about time, distance from the source and shielding.  The early researchers for Edison used the standard of a "skin reddening dose" to let them know when they'd had enough for the day or week 
Comment icon #31 Posted by Noteverythingisaconspiracy on 17 August, 2019, 23:02
The US did indeed work on a project like this, but they soon came to the conclusion that ballistic missiles were a superior solution. I can't imagine why the Russians are working on a dangerous thing like this, when they allready have a large number of powerfull and virtually unstoppable ballistic missiles. Your link didn't work. This should do it.
Comment icon #32 Posted by DarkHunter on 17 August, 2019, 23:15
Probably cause it's more propaganda then anything else, the Russian military had the people vote on what this new weapon system would be named.  The Russian military is barely even a shadow of the USSR military and Putin seems to like to make a big show of these new super/dooms day weapons even if they arent anywhere close to being viable or even really useful just to distract from problems back in Russia. If they get the weapon to actually work though it could actually be rather useful.
Comment icon #33 Posted by Captain Risky on 18 August, 2019, 2:17
Harder to detect and employ counter measures against. 

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