Ad Astra Rocket Company Reaches Full Power Milestone for VASIMR VX-200 Engine

photograph of Ad Astra scientists using a laser alignment rig with the VX-200. Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company

VASIMR® VX-200 Meets Full Power Efficiency Milestone

Ad Astra Press Release

Houston, TX –- Nov. 23, 2010 — Ad Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR® VX-200 rocket prototype demonstrated its highest power efficiency and performance so far in tests, which ended Friday November 19 at the company’s Houston laboratory. Last week’s results met the efficiency milestone set by the company as it specifies the requirements for the VF-200 flight engine for the International Space Station. The VX-200 is the full power laboratory prototype that provides the technical basis for the design of the flight hardware.


Ad Astra Rocket Company to Offer Stock to Investors

Rocket Company Launches Stock Offering
Tico Times

The Ad Astra Rocket Company, founded in 2005 by Costa Rican astronaut and physicist Franklin Chang, announced Wednesday that it will become a limited public corporation, offering stock to investors willing to pay a minimum of $25,000 on Costa Rica’s National Stock Exchange.


The Space Review Looks at Commercial Crew, VASIMR Engine

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser - a seven-person space shuttle designed for orbital flight.

In The Space Review this week…

Building a foundation for commercial crew
As the debate over commercial crew development continues in Washington, NASA and industry are taking initial steps on such efforts. Jeff Foust discusses some of the ongoing efforts and planning that continue despite political uncertainty.

Halfway to the stars (atop piles of paper)
For every mission that actually flies, many more never make it beyond the proposal stage. Dwayne Day looks at the efforts companies and organizations put into such proposals, including one novel radar satellite system.

VASIMR: hope or hype for Mars exploration?
An advanced electric propulsion concept known as VASIMR has won support from some, including NASA leadership, for its potential to greatly reduce the travel times for human Mars missions. Jeff Foust reports that some Mars advocates are skeptical, at best, of the ability of this system to match expectations.

Chang-Diaz Sees VASIMR as Boosting Costa Rican Space Industry

Former Astronaut Chang Said Costa Rican Should Insert Itself In Aerospace Development
Inside Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s own former NASA astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz, feels that Costa Rican businesses should take advantage of the aerospace technology that is ripe for local businesses to be involved in a field with enormous possibilities.


Package Delivery and Trash Pickup, Courtesy of the VASIMR Rocket


Costa Rican creates plasma rocket to pick up space trash
Global Post

Before launching speedier Mars missions, Chang Diaz proposes some practical uses of the rocket closer to Earth. It could, for example, act like a DHL in outer space, in which plasma-thrust crafts would transport packages, mainly fuel, to satellites or spaceships on the cheap — well, cheaper. Shipments that today run to the tune of a billion dollars, according to the CEO, would cost half a billion on Ad Astra spacecrafts.

He mentioned another use that flies closer to the heart of his eco-friendly homeland. These ships could start to clean up the clutter left by disused satellites.


Ad Astra Reaches Milestone with VASIMR Engine


30 September 2009

Ad Astra Rocket Company’s VASIMR® VX-200 rocket prototype reached its highly- coveted 200 kW maximum power milestone at 11:59 am (CST) in tests conducted at the company’s Houston laboratory. The DC power trace actually exceeded the design requirement by 1 kW and exhibited the clear signature of a well established plateau at peak power (see graph).


Could VASMIR Make Human Mars Missions Feasible?


Route to Mars may come through Costa Rica
Tico Times

The route to Mars may go through Costa Rica. On Wednesday, Ronald Chang, executive director of Ad Astra Rocket Company Costa Rica, gave a presentation at the National Museum that detailed how Costa Rica has the opportunity to serve as a vital cog in the first-ever mission to Mars.

Chang is the brother of former NASA astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang, who in 24 years as an astronaut, logged over 1,600 hours in space during seven space missions, making him one of the most-traveled astronauts in history. Both of the Chang brothers were born in San José.

In his presentation, Ronald Chang explained that his brother created an ion plasma rocket, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, known as VASIMR, which can reach Mars in 39 days. Using technology currently available, a rocket can travel to Mars in eight to nine months.

Read the full story.

Ion Engines Could Make Mars Trips Routine


Ion engine could one day power 39-day trips to Mars
New Scientist

Several space missions have already used ion engines, including NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which is en route to the asteroids Vesta and CeresMovie Camera, and Japan’s spacecraft Hayabusa, which rendezvoused with the asteroid Itokawa in 2005.

But a new engine, called VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket), will have much more “oomph” than previous ones. That’s because it uses a radio frequency generator, similar to transmitters used to broadcast radio shows, to heat the charged particles, or plasma.


VX-200 Demonstrates Superconducting First Stage at Full Power



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.