Russian radiation leak?

Several dead and injured in a Russian missile test accident. There are reports of high radiation levels from local authorities, but there is also speculation that the radiation claim is a ploy to keep people from picking up debris from the accident.

This sounds a bit like the aftermath of the Chernolbyl explosion.

What do you think is going on?

Where s the radiation coming from? Are they nuclear powered?

That is a good question.

One possibility is a nuclear warhead, but why would they test a missile armed with a real warhead?

If there is no nuclear warhead, then where is the radiation coming from?

Are they using nuclear energy to power the missile?

Or is the radiation story just an excuse to keep people away?

Or is the radiation leak really unrelated to the missile test?

Here is a Russian report that appears to answer some questions:

The five who perished had been working on an “isotope power source” for a propulsion system. An increase in background radiation was registered on the test site, but the measurements are said to have soon returned to normal.

If the rocket is propelled with some sort of nuclear power, then a radiation leak makes more sense. It looks like they may have resurrected an idea that dates back to the 1960s:

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