Russia plans to build nuclear space engine Russian space officials say the country is dedicated to the successful building of a nuclear engine for spacecraft by 2017. A megawatt-class nuclear propulsion system for long-range manned spacecraft is expected to be ready by 2017, Denis Kovalevich of the Russian think tank Skolkovo Foundation said Wednesday. "At present we are testing several types of fuel and later we will start drafting the design," Kovalevich told RIA Novosti. "The first parts [of the nuclear engine] should be built in 2013, and the engine is expected to be ready by 2017." Russia's nuclear power agency Rosatom said the development and construction of a nuclear propulsion system for spacecraft will cost more than $247 million. The Russian government earmarked $16.7 million in 2010 to start a project to build a spacecraft with a nuclear engine, while the overall investment in the project is estimated at over $580 million until 2019, RIA Novosti reported. NASA began a similar program to develop a nuclear propulsion system in 2003 and spent several hundred million dollars on the project before funding was cut.