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Russia Launches Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Amid Warmer Climate Cycles

It's one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world.

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ice breaker
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Ural is pictured during the float-out ceremony at the Baltic Shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, May 25, 2019. VOA

Russia launched a nuclear-powered icebreaker on Saturday, part of an ambitious program to renew and expand its fleet of the vessels in order to improve its ability to tap the Arctic’s commercial potential.

The ship, dubbed the Ural, was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg. It’s one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world. Russia is building new infrastructure and overhauling its ports as, amid warmer climate cycles, it readies for more traffic via what it calls the Northern Sea Route (NSR), which it envisages being navigable year-round.

The Ural is due to be handed over to Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom in 2022 after the two other icebreakers in the same series, Arktika (Arctic) and Sibir (Siberia), enter service. “The Ural together with its sisters are central to our strategic project of opening the NSR to all-year activity,” Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s chief executive, was quoted saying.

ice breaker
The ship, dubbed the Ural, was floated out from a dockyard in St Petersburg. It’s one of a trio that when completed will be the largest and most powerful icebreakers in the world. Wikimedia Commons

President Vladimir Putin said in April that Russia was stepping up construction of icebreakers with the aim of significantly boosting freight traffic along its Arctic coast.

Vying for dominance

The drive is part of a push to strengthen Moscow’s hand in the High North as it vies for dominance with traditional rivals Canada, the United States and Norway, as well as newcomer China.

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By 2035, Putin said Russia’s Arctic fleet would operate at least 13 heavy-duty icebreakers, nine of which would be powered by nuclear reactors. The Arctic holds oil and gas reserves equivalent to 412 billion barrels of oil, about 22 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates.

Moscow hopes the route that runs from Murmansk to the Bering Strait near Alaska could take off as it cuts sea transport times from Asia to Europe. Designed to be crewed by 75 people, the Ural will be able to slice through ice up to around 3 meters thick. (VOA)

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To Mock Elon Musk, Russia Launched a Toy Car into Space

Rogozin is known for his rivalry with Musk which often comes out publicly as sarcastic banters

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Elon Musk, Russia, Toy
In response to Musk's space stunt, the team from Russia's Tomsk State University launched a toy replica of the red Zhiguli car. Flickr

Mocking SpaceX CEO Elon Musk launched a Tesla car into space in 2018, Russian scientists sent their own red car outside the Earth, but the car was actually just a toy.

In February 2018, SpaceX launched its reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle — Falcon Heavy for the first time along with a cherry-red Tesla Roadster with a mannequin called ‘Starman’ behind the wheel.

In response to Musk’s space stunt, the team from Russia’s Tomsk State University launched a toy replica of the red Zhiguli car owned by Dmitry Rogozin, who serves as the Director General of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency, Futurism reported on Friday.

Rogozin is known for his rivalry with Musk which often comes out publicly as sarcastic banters on micro-blogging site Twitter.

Elon Musk, Russia, Toy
Mocking SpaceX CEO Elon Musk launched a Tesla car into space in 2018. Pixabay

Along with the toy car, the Russian scientists also put a tiny cut-out of a smiling Rogozin in the driver’s seat.

Unlike ‘Starman’, however, the Rogozin replica returned to the Earth and landed an estimated 2,000 kilometres away from its launch site after about 16 hours of flight, the report said.

Russia’s space mockery targeting Musk was executed just days after Rogozin said he would not hire Musk to get help with reusable rocketry.

While Rogozin has not met Musk as yet, he frequently reacts publicly to the SpaceX CEO’s tweets and slams SpaceX over ‘killing competitors’.

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Rogozin said he would gladly meet the multi-billionaire if he ever comes to Russia for a private visit. (IANS)