The capital participation in Ad Astra will be in exchange for the construction of the Aurora platform to carry the VASIMR rocket on its initial trials in space. (A model of such a platform was constructed by a consortium of small local aerospace firms last year.)
Specifically, Astrium is interested in using VASIMR to power its Astrium Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV. The ATV is currently in service transporting cargo to the International Space Station.
But the North American subsidiary is interested in using a VASIMR-powered version for such work as establishing and repositioning satellites and space vehicles. The plasma rocket has a longer range than normal chemical rockets and is cheaper to run as well.
Business opportunities were explored last April in a technical assistance agreement signed in the United States.
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