Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Monday, July 06, 2009

VASIMR - Ad Astra Rocket Company - VX-200 Demonstrates Superconducting First Stage at Full Power

VASIMR - Ad Astra Rocket Company - VX-200 Demonstrates
Superconducting First Stage at Full Power

To revolutionize space transportation and exploration,
through the development and commercialization of the
VASIMR® engine and related technologies


The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) system encompasses three linked magnetic cells. The "Plasma Source" cell involves the main injection of neutral gas (typically hydrogen, or other light gases) to be turned into plasma and the ionization subsystem. The "RF Booster" cell acts as an amplifier to further energize the plasma to the desired temperature using electromagnetic waves. The "Magnetic Nozzle" cell converts the energy of the plasma into directed motion and ultimately useful thrust.



Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully demonstrated operation of its VX-200 plasma engine first stage at full power and under superconducting conditions in tests conducted today at the company’s Houston laboratory. This achievement is a key milestone in the engine’s development and the first time a superconducting plasma rocket has been operated at that power level.

Today’s tests build on the achievements of the VX-200i, the engine’s non-superconducting predecessor, which last fall underwent similar tests but under a greatly reduced set of requirements. A major difference between the two is the superconducting magnet, featured in the present system, which provides a ten-fold increase in the magnetic field and enables operation of the engine under conditions consistent with actual space flight.

The VX-200 superconducting magnet, the first of its kind, was delivered to Ad Astra’s Houston facility on February 10, 2009 by its manufacturer, Scientific Magnetics of Oxford, U.K. After successful acceptance tests, the superconductor was installed in the engine module, replacing the conventional magnet that had been used in the interim. This interim magnet, although incapable of reaching the strong magnetic fields required for full rocket performance, enabled the integrated testing of the remaining engine sub-systems while the company awaited delivery of the superconductor. First plasma in full superconducting mode was achieved on June 24, 2009.

---------------------------------------------------------------- [the above press
release PDF from Ad Astra Rocket Company.]
and an earlier first stage accomplishment.

Also more news archive clips.

Do you have someone coming up through the educational system that might learn and add to what has been started here?

See what having a vision can achieve.
- LRK -
In August of 1968, Franklin Chang-Díaz arrived in the United States unable to speak English. By 1977 he had earned a Ph.D. in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

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Ad Astra Rocket Company

The Ad Astra Rocket Company was incorporated on January 14, 2005. The company is presently located in Webster, TX, several miles from NASA's Johnson Space Center. The Chairman and CEO of Ad Astra Rocket Company is retired astronaut, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz. The company has been working on Chang-Diaz's concept of the VASIMR. The VASIMR is a rocket intended to achieve several advantages over current chemical rocket designs, including lunar cargo transport, in-space refueling, and ultra-high speeds for distant space missions.

Ad Astra Rocket Company is currently developing the VX-200, a full-scale prototype of the VASIMR engine intended for ground testing. The company intends to complete the prototype in 2009. Following the test, the company will begin preparations for the VF-200-1, the first
flight unit. Ad Astra Rocket Company hopes to send the VF-200-1 into space by late 2012. The VASIMR technology could be very useful in the near future for interplanetary space travel. The VASIMR design would be capable of reducing the trip to Mars to less than four months,
whereas current chemical rockets take around eight months.
VASIMIR Applications

VASIMR® is not suitable to launch payloads from the surface of the Earth due to its low thrust to weight ratio and its need of a vacuum to operate. Instead, it will function as an upper stage for cargo, drastically reducing the fuel requirements for in-space transportation. The engine is expected to perform the following functions at a fraction of the cost of chemical technologies:
1) drag compensation for space stations,
2) lunar cargo transport,
3) in-space refueling,
4) in space resource recovery,
5) ultra high speed transportation for deep space missions.

The Market

Market research supports the profitability of private spaceflight for tourism and other commercial applications. Over the last few years, private investment in non-government commercial spaceflight projects has grown dramatically. Major players, such as SpaceX, Bigelow
Aerospace, Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic, Rocketplane Kistler and Blue Origin are planning, over the next 8 – 10 years, to develop suborbital and orbital transport vehicles and modular space stations.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Programmatic Workshop on NASA Lunar Surface
Systems Concepts 02.13.09
February 25-27, 2009
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC

As part of an ongoing collaboration, NASA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) Space Enterprise Council (SEC) are conducting a workshop on NASA Lunar Surface Systems (LSS) Concepts. The objective is to provide a status of NASA's lunar surface exploration architecture, to share results of recent innovative lunar concept studies, and to seek feedback from U.S. industry and other interested parties. The workshop will include briefings on NASA, industry, and university analyses performed for NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) and Constellation Program (CxP), with particular emphasis on a recently completed suite of lunar surface study contracts administered by the Constellation Program's LSS Project Office.

Agenda - Wednesday, February 25 (8 am - 5 pm)
NASA JSC Advanced Planning Office Blog: Is it time to start the Federation?

In the next few weeks we will get a new Administrator and Deputy Administrator. Shortly after that we will hear from the new Augustine Committee their recommendations concerning the future of human space exploration. So what can we expect about the future direction of NASA? To answer that let me go back four years to the early days of the Advanced Planning Office, when the Director for the Johnson Space Center (JSC), Mike Coats commissioned us to look at the 20 year strategy for JSC. When we started we conducted an environmental scan which included the changes in commercial space and international space.

The results of the scan and a series of scenario planning activities offered a future vision where Low Earth Orbit (LEO) would be crowded and that NASA could leverage to a greater extent the capabilities outside of the agency allowing us to focus our resources on exploration beyond LEO. Over the past few years we have been tracking their progress and it has been the source of many of my previous blogs. Then last fall during the presidential campaign, President Obama offered his view on the future direction of NASA. It included

* Using the Private Sector: Obama will stimulate efforts within the
private sector to develop and demonstrate spaceflight capabilities.
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services is a good model of
government/industry collaboration.

* Drawing in International Partners: Obama will encourage a
cooperative framework for the conduct of a long-term and sustainable
international exploration initiative. This will enable the United
States to leverage its resources and to use space exploration as a
tool of global diplomacy. Then earlier this year the Office of Science
& Technology Policy (OSTP) stated the following: The administration
and OSTP will develop policies that will:

* Help establish a robust and balanced civilian space program, and
engage international partners and the private sector to amplify NASA's
reach. Then it's probably no coincidence that a number of the
committee members of the Augustine Committee are from commercial




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