VASIMR: Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket


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Draggendrop

A 200 kW temporary VASIMR testbed goes to ISS about early 2018. If it works out an 80-100 kW VASIMR reboost module could go up later.

ELF is extremely interesting too; lightweight, high thrust & efficiency it doesn't need pure nobel gases as propellant. It can run on them, but also Earth air, Martian atmosphere, water, CO2 and other molecular materials. Because it could conceivably power a hypersonic vehicle at high altitudes as an air breather the USAF has high interest. So does NASA for use as an upper stage powered by beamed power.

I sure hope the VASIMR testing works out as the station shouldn't have to depend on other craft for manoeuvring. I think you are right about ELF as it has many of the qualities required for multi-use, all in one propulsion package.

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Draggendrop

We are fortunate to actually have NASA. I wonder if most people are aware of how important NASA is for research and development. They put more out than just money.....knowledge and facilities with talented people. Dr.Diaz, SpaceX....and the list goes on, of the pioneering work helped this way.... :D

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DocM

 

NextSTEP thread: https://www.neowin.net/forum/topic/1251796-nasa-nextstep-advanced-project-awards/

Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA move to execution phase of NextSTEP VASIMR partnership

Press Release From: Ad Astra Rocket Company 

Posted: Monday, August 10, 2015

ooAD-ASTRA-slide-image-04_0.jpg

Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA have successfully completed contract negotiations on the company's Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) award, announced on March 31, 2015, and now enter the execution phase of the project.

The parties executed the contract, a three-year, fixed price agreement, on August 7, 2015 for a total value of just over $9 million. The agreement is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions based on the accomplishment of mutually agreed upon progress milestones.

NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems Program sponsors NextSTEP awards in a 50/50 cost partnership with industry. Under this award, Ad Astra will conduct a long duration, high power test of an upgraded version of the VX-200TM VASIMR prototype, the VX-200SSTM (for steady state), for a minimum of 100 hours continuously at a power level of 100 kW. These experiments aim to demonstrate the engine's new proprietary core design and thermal control subsystem and to better estimate component lifetime. The tests will be conducted in Ad Astra's large, state-of-the-art vacuum chamber in the company's Texas facility.

Since its inception in 2005, Ad Astra has continued to advance the technology readiness level (TRL) of the VASIMR engine almost exclusively with private funding. This funding enabled the company to complete more than 10,000 successful high power firings, demonstrating the engine's excellent reliability and performance (6 N thrust, 5000 sec Isp at greater than 70% efficiency) with no measurable signs of engine wear.
To optimize company resources, these tests were of short duration (less than 1 minute), but sufficiently long to reliably establish the rocket's performance and measure thermal loads. Now, a longer duration test is needed to validate the new rocket core design for extended operation in space. Going forward in partnership with NASA under the NextSTEP award, Ad Astra continues the technology maturation of the VASIMR to a TRL level greater than 5, a step closer to flight.

"We are proud of our accomplishments and thrilled by this announcement, which gives us a big boost toward space," said Dr. Mark D. Carter, Ad Astra's Sr. VP, Technology Development. "I am proud to be a be part of this project, an example of a progressive commercial-NASA partnership, seeking to advance the United States' electric propulsion capability for the future of spaceflight," said Dr. Jared P. Squire, Ad Astra's Sr. VP, Research. Drs. Carter and Squire are leading the project at Ad Astra as Principal and Co-Principal Investigators respectively.

ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR works with plasma, an electrically charged gas that can be heated to extreme temperatures by radio waves and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields. The magnetic field also insulates nearby structures so exhaust temperatures well beyond the melting point of materials can be achieved. In rocket propulsion, the higher the temperature of the exhaust gases, the higher their velocity and the higher the fuel efficiency. Plasma rockets feature exhaust velocities far above those achievable by their chemical cousins, so their fuel consumption is extremely low.

 

 

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Draggendrop

NASA Funds Plasma Rocket Technology for Superfast Space Travel

prototype-plasma-engine-double-layer-thr
File image.

Superfast journeys to Mars may be one big step closer for humanity, as NASA has sponsored a private company to develop a high-tech, plasma engine.

Ad Astra Rocket Company, specializing in the development of plasma rocket propulsion technology, has finished contract negotiations with NASA. As part of the Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) award, the space agency will cover half of Ad Astra's testing expenses over the next three years.

Known as the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, the engine uses plasma technology to accelerate rockets to previously unattainable speeds. To create plasma, the proposed engines will heat pressurized gas to extremely high temperatures with radio waves. The resulting plasma is kept under control with magnetic fields.

"These experiments aim to demonstrate the engine's new proprietary core design and thermal control subsystem and to better estimate component lifetime," reads a statement from Ad Astra.

If the company successfully develops VASIMR, it could be possible for humans to reach Mars in less than two months.

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Ad Astra has to demonstrate that its engine is capable of sustaining a power level of 100 Kilowatts for at least 100 hours. These prototype tests will be conducted in the company's Texas facility "Webster."

Even before receiving NASA funding, Ad Astra had successfully conducted over 10,000 experiments of its VASIMR. Those experiments demonstrated proof of concept, but so far, plasma engines can only operate for less than one minute.

New research hopes to extend the engine's capacity.

The total value of the award is roughly $9 million, and is structured as a one-year contract with two potential extensions based on results.

 

 http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/NASA_Funds_Plasma_Rocket_Technology_for_Superfast_Space_Travel_999.html

Cheers....:)

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DocM

Ad Astra Rocket Company Completes First Year NextSTEP Milestones



WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra Rocket Co. PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all milestones and deliverables for the first of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The $9 million-dollar, fixed price agreement, is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions, based on successful completion of project milestones. After a successful year-one performance review, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-two activities.

Under the NASA NextSTEP partnership, Ad Astra will demonstrate a 100 hour continuous firing of the VX-200SSTM VASIMR® prototype at a power level of 100 kW. This test, conducted in Ad Astra’s 150m3 Texas vacuum chamber, aims to bring the engine to a technology readiness level (TRL) 5, a step just before space flight. The VX-200SSTM includes a new proprietary rocket core design and will be capable of operating indefinitely in a thermally stable mode under space-like vacuum conditions.
Important year-one achievements include the redesign and manufacturing of the new VX-200SSTM rocket core and new vacuum and thermal management sub-systems for the laboratory. These are needed for handling the vacuum requirements and the unprecedented thermal load arising from the rocket’s 3 million-degree plasma exhaust. Other milestones include the refurbishment of the rocket’s cryogen-free superconducting magnet and the high power RF generators developed for Ad Astra by Nautel Ltd. of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

In the second year, Ad Astra will integrate all the VX-200SSTM sub-systems and conduct the first high power plasma firings, planned for late October of this year. These tests will continue in 2017 at increasingly longer pulse lengths. Ad Astra expects to reach the 100hr/100 kW goal by mid-2018.

“We are pleased with this year’s accomplishments and thrilled to continue with NASA on this exciting project on our path to space,” said Dr. Mark D. Carter, Ad Astra’s Sr. VP, Technology Development and VX-200SSTM Project Manager.

“I am proud of the Ad Astra team and its outstanding job in completing all year-one milestones and deliverables, on budget and on, or ahead of, schedule,” said Dr. Jared P. Squire, Ad Astra’s Sr. VP, Research and VX-200SSTM Deputy Project Manager.

Since 2005, Ad Astra has developed the technology with more than $30 million in private investment, completing more than 10,000 high power firings of the VASIMR® rocket. These tests, while of short duration, demonstrated the engine’s reliable performance, efficiency and stability. The planned long duration tests with NASA, aim to demonstrate its durability and thermal control.

About the Technology

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR® works with plasma, an electrically charged gas that can be heated to extreme temperatures and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields, which also provide insulation. Plasma rockets, such as VASIMR®, have an extremely low fuel consumption and much higher performance as compared with conventional chemical propulsion or other electric rockets. They will provide a major economic and operational advantage for US leadership in space commerce, including satellite deployment, re-boost services, refurbishment and end-of-life disposal. In the longer term, with an appropriate nuclear-electric power source, VASIMR® would provide much faster and safer human and robotic transportation in deep-space where solar power is insufficient.

About Ad Astra

A US Delaware corporation established in 2005, Ad Astra Rocket Company is the developer of the VASIMR® engine, an advanced plasma propulsion system for the emerging in-space transportation market. Ad Astra also owns and operates supporting R&D subsidiaries in the US and Costa Rica. The company also develops earthbound high technology applications in renewable energy, advanced manufacturing and applied physics. Ad Astra has its main laboratory and corporate headquarters at 141 W. Bay Area Boulevard in Webster, Texas, USA, about two miles from the NASA Johnson Space Center.

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Beittil

Man, I love this project. Really hope they will succeed in the end and shut up a lot of critics...

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DocM

!!!!

 

PSCA = Pacific Spaceport Complex - Alaska

 

http://akaerospace.com/news/commercial-rocket-launches-coming-kodiak-island

 

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Ad Astra, a Texas-based aerospace company specializing in advanced plasma rocket propulsion technology, is contracted to launch from PSCA in late January or early February, he said. He said Kodiak may see “robust activity” from the company moving forward.
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DocM

If the Q4 2018 100-hour test goes well, taking VASIMR to TRL-5*, a flight test in 2022 is next.

 

* Technical Readiness Level 5

 

https://thecostaricanews.com/canadian-space-agency-signs-us-1-5-million-rd-agreement-boosting-ad-astra-rocket-companys-vasimr-development/

 

Canadian Space Agency Signs US$ 1.5 Million R&D Agreement Boosting Ad Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR® Development



A US$ 1.5 million funding agreement has been signed between Aethera Technologies Limited of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for the development of advanced high-power radiofrequency (RF) power processing units for Ad Astra's VASIMR® engine. The agreement, announced by the CSA on May 25th, 2018, adds a major boost to Aethera's RF power processing unit (RF-PPU) development program. The critical and innovative technology outcomes from this program support on the ongoing partnership between Ad Astra and Aethera to develop advanced, high-power, in-space electric propulsion.

"The CSA's funding provides a measure of Canada's long-term view of the importance of high power electric propulsion in humanity's gradual evolution beyond low Earth orbit (LEO) and the unique and ongoing contribution of that nation’s technology base to the exploration of space", said Dr. Franklin Ramón Chang Díaz, Costa Rican NASA Astronaut, Founder, COB, and CEO of Ad-Astra Rocket Company. "With Canada’s involvement in the project, the VASIMR® engine takes on a stronger international flavor".

A critical element of the VASIMR engine, the RF- PPUs, is being supplied by Aethera to support the upcoming 100-hour continuous high-power firing test of the VASIMR® VX-200SSTM engine. The test is scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2018 under NASA’s NextSTEP partnership with Ad Astra. At the completion of the 100-hr test, all systems of the VASIMR® engine will be at or above Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5, the step just prior to a space flight test.

"We are focused on developing state of the art RF-PPUs with extremely high energy conversion efficiencies and mass density which will enhance Ad Astra’s VX-200SSTM VASIMR® engine", stated Tim Hardy, CTO at Aethera. "The team is extremely excited to be working on this project", he added.

The most advanced VASIMR® engine is the VX-200SSTM prototype, approaching technology readiness level 5 and currently undergoing testing at Ad Astra’s Texas facility near Houston. In late 2017, the company successfully accumulated 100 hours of non-continuous high-power tests and is now upgrading the rocket for continuous firing operations. Despite a 1-month disruption in operations due to Hurricane Harvey, the company has completed all NASA contract milestones to date and remains on the budget for the completion of the program.

The final goal is to demonstrate a 100-hour continuous firing of the VX-200SSTM at a power level of 100 kilowatts. The company marches towards this goal on schedule, along with a path of interim milestones focusing on the rocket's new active thermal management system, designed to enable it to operate at full power indefinitely.

“Ad Astra's VASIMR® technology has the potential to open dramatic new opportunities in the commercialization of space and we are extremely pleased to be a partner with Ad-Astra and receive support from the CSA in developing this world-class technology in Nova Scotia”, expressed Aethera's President, Kirk Zwicker.

ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR® works with plasma, an electrically charged gas that can be heated to extreme temperatures and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields, which also provide insulation.

Plasma rockets, such as VASIMR®, have extremely low-fuel consumption and much higher performance as compared with conventional chemical propulsion or other electric rockets. They will provide a major economic and operational advantage in space commerce, including satellite deployment, re-boost services, refurbishment and end-of-life disposal. In the longer term, with an appropriate nuclear-electric power source, VASIMR® would provide much faster and safer human and robotic transportation in deep-space where solar power is insufficient.
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Beittil

Slap a couple of these babies on any space station and it can run on their solar array with waste gasses as fuel. So awesome :D

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DocM

An 88 hour test for VASIMR, terminated early because of a faulty temperature sensor. 100 hours was the plan.

 

VASIMR heats a plasma to millions of degrees, ejecting it through a magnetic "nozzle" at exceedingly high velocities. 

 

1627085788131.jpg.058696da2f2086c9da57c9fae01c6a22.jpg

 

PDF: https://www.adastrarocket.com/pressReleases/2021/20210722-PressRelease.pdf

 

https://www.adastrarocket.com/aarc/PressReleases

 

Quote

 

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra Rocket Co. PR) — Ad  Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR® VX-200SS  Plasma Rocket has completed 88 hours of  continuous operation at 80 kW at the company’s  Texas laboratory near Houston. In doing so, the  company establishes a new high-power world endurance record in electric propulsion. The test  also demonstrates the maturity of the VASIMR® engine technology as a competitive option for  high-power in-space electric propulsion with  either solar or nuclear electric power. Electric  rockets operating above 50 kW/thruster are  considered “high-power.” 

 

The test began at 12:50 pm (CST) last Monday  July 12 and ended Friday, July 16 at 4:55 am (CST).

 

The firing stopped only 12 hours shy of its intended duration of 100 hours due to a spurious temperature sensor located in the test support  equipment and not on the rocket structure. The  rocket, however, was performing normally and all  indications were that, were it not for this faulty sensor, it would have met and exceeded the 100- hour goal. Ad Astra believes the 88-hr test provides objective and sufficient evidence that  the VASIMR® engine has met the intent of the  high-power endurance goal set by NASA. 

 

“The test is a major success, the culmination of years of trial-and-error testing and painstaking  attention to detail and a handsome reward for the  team’s tenacity and dedication,” said Franklin R.  Chang Díaz, Ad Astra’s chairman and CEO and  a decorated former NASA astronaut. “With a new  set of engine modifications already in the  manufacturing stage, we’ll now move to  demonstrate thermal steady state at 100 kW in  the second half of 2021,” he added. 

 

The VASIMR® engine is unique in that it retains  the high power of a chemical rocket but with ten  times the fuel efficiency. As such, it is an excellent candidate for a host of applications, ranging from  high-payload solar-electric robotic commercial  cargo and resupply missions in cis-lunar space, to fast human missions to Mars and beyond with nuclear-electric propulsion (NEP). 

 

The growing importance of NEP missions for  which VASIMR® is ideally suited is reflected in the language of the 2022 Bill submitted by the  Committee on Appropriations for Commerce,  Justice, Science and Related Agencies of the US  House of Representatives, which states that “…at  least $10,000,000 shall be utilized to begin a  systematic approach to Nuclear Electric  Propulsion…”, and “Within 180 days of the  enactment of this Act, NASA, in coordination with  other relevant Federal departments and agencies  such as the Department of Energy, shall submit a  multi-year plan for in-space propulsion-system  demonstration for NEP.” 

 

“It is absolutely inspiring to see how much  Franklin Chang Díaz and the Ad Astra team have  been able to accomplish and advance in the  years that I have known them. This technology  has major potential to revolutionize the space  industry,” said U.S. Congressman Brian Babin,  Ranking Member of the House Space and  Aeronautics Subcommittee. “Ad Astra’s small but  dedicated team is a true testament of  perseverance and continuing to invest in  advanced technologies such as VASIMR® is  critical if we want to remain a country that leads  in space exploration,” he added. 

 

The company’s main goal is for the VASIMR® engine to demonstrate thermal steady-state  operation at increasingly higher power levels. This condition calls for all the temperatures of the  engine’s critical components to be stably  maintained by the engine’s thermal management  system. 

 

“The ability to operate continuously at 80 kW is  exciting because we are so close to our 100-kW design goal and needing to focus on upgrading  just a few components,” said Dr. Matthew  Giambusso, Ad Astra Senior Research Scientist,  and leader of experiment operations. “The rapid sequence of successful tests of the last few  weeks have been thrilling,” he added. 

Major advances in the design of this system have  been achieved in experimental campaigns lasting  days to weeks, each followed by a period of  inspection, disassembly, and improvement. This  rapid prototyping is the basis for Ad Astra’s  approach to mature the VASIMR® technology  quickly and provide a competitive high-power  electric propulsion option for both public and  private customers. 

 

The thermal management of the VASIMR® engine is uniquely challenging, as temperatures  from millions of degrees in the rocket’s plasma core to near absolute zero in the superconducting  magnet, located a few tens of centimeters away,  must be carefully controlled. This, of course, in  the vacuum environment where the engine must  operate. These stringent requirements have  required Ad Astra to develop innovative  manufacturing and assembly techniques to meet  unusual thermal and electromagnetic constraints within the available engine envelope. “Getting the  great diversity of materials to work in harmony in  the environment we subject the engine to has  presented major manufacturing challenges we  have had to overcome,” said Mr. Lawrence “DJ”  Dean, Ad Astra’s head of manufacturing.

 

About the technology: Short for Variable  Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR® works with plasma, an electrically  charged gas, heated to extreme temperatures by  radio frequency (RF) waves, and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields, which also  provide insulation. Plasma rockets, such as  VASIMR®, have an extremely low fuel  consumption and much higher power and/or performance as compared to other electric or  chemical rockets. VASIMR® offers economic and operational advantages in satellite deployment, re-boost, refurbishment, and end-of-life disposal.  With the proper nuclear-electric power source, VASIMR® could enable much faster and safer human and robotic transportation in deep-space where solar power is insufficient. 

 

 

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