Evidence? Russia's Nuclear-Powered Doomsday Missile Blew Up Last Week (Updated)
[TheDrive] Seven personnel from a major nuclear weapons research laboratory died in the mysterious incident at a test site in northwestern Russia.
Rumors and speculation continue to swirl around a radiological accident last week at a missile test site in northwestern Russia even as officials held a memorial service today for those who died in the incident. The Kremlin has now acknowledged that the incident killed at least seven scientists and other personnel from a major state nuclear research laboratory, who were working on a system that included a small nuclear reactor at the time. This same lab is linked to the development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile called Burevestnik and U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly increasingly of the view that one of these weapons, or a test article related to it, exploded in this mishap.
Details remain scarce about Burevestnik and how it works, but the most prominent working theory is that its main propulsion source is a nuclear ramjet. A weapon in this configuration would use rocket motor potentially liquid-fueled, which would explain the source of the explosion in this accident to boost it to the optimal speed for the ramjet to work. After that, air would pass over the nuclear reactor and get heated before passing through an exhaust nozzle at the rear to produce thrust.
This, in principle, would give the weapon virtually unlimited range and a maximum flying time measured in days or weeks.
U.S. President Donald Trump appears to have confirmed that the U.S. Intelligence Community has at least strong suspicions that a Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, or a prototype thereof, was involved in the accident last week. Trump Tweeted about the incident late on Aug. 12, 2019, describing it using the NATO nickname for the weapon, "Skyfall." Previous reports have identified this moniker, but no U.S. or other NATO officials have used it publicly before, suggesting that the social media post followed a formal briefing on the topic.