Ad Astra Part of Orbital ATK Team Selected for NASA Advance Propulsion Contract

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas, September 21, 2015 (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company is part of a team, led by Orbital ATK, selected by NASA for the RTAPS2 Contract. RTAPS2 provides a contractual vehicle by which selected industry partners can develop, demonstrate and verify advanced propulsion system technologies in support of NASA’s aerospace research programs. NASA developed the RTAPS2 Contract as part of its ongoing, long-term aerospace research activities at the agency’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The competitive process was initiated in the spring of 2015 and concluded in late July.

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Excalibur Almaz Shoots for the Moon and Beyond

Excalibur Almaz's space tourism vehicle concept. (Credit: Excalibur Almaz)

Excalibur Almaz is looking beyond sending its Soviet-era space vehicles and stations into Earth orbit and is actively working on human missions to the moon, asteroids and lagrange points.

Excalibur Almaz CEO Art Dula outlined the company’s plans on Sunday during the International Space Development Conference in Washington. Based upon Twitter posts by attendees, here are the highlights:

  • The company has four reusable capsules (with four seats) and two space station pressure vessels that it is upgrading with modern technology
  • Planned services include crew and cargo transportation from Earth to LEO, lunar orbits and lagrange point 2 (L2)
  • EA is working with: MDA and Ad Astra (VASIMR engine) on asteroid rendezvous scenarios; ULA (launchers); Astrium (ATV-based propulsion system); NASA (Space Act Agreement on commercial crew); and Futron (marketing studies)
  • Company appears to be no longer interested in providing commercial crew services to ISS (more…)

Franklin Chang Diaz Profile

changdiaz

I found a story (in Spanish) on Franklin Chang Diaz, the former NASA astronaut who heads up Ad Astra Rocket Company. Below is an excerpt in English courtesy of Google Translate.

Why support Franklin Chang?
Elfinancierocr.com

I had the pleasure of meeting Franklin Chang in June 2006 with a handful of notes on his experiences at NASA with the physics of plasma.

His long career in the space race, after reaching the orbit of the earth seven times, had given him the vision to develop new ideas on the development of space propulsion, yea, a new era is developing in the exploration space.

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Superconducting Magnet Delivered for Ad Astra’s VASIMR Engine

PRESS RELEASE

The VX-200 low temperature superconducting magnet has been delivered to Ad Astra’s Houston facility by its manufacturer, Scientific Magnetics Ltd. of Oxford, England and has successfully passed a battery of acceptance tests conducted by a combined team from Scientific Magnetics and Ad Astra. The superconductor is an essential component of the VASIMR™ engine and is responsible for generating the strong magnetic field required to fully heat and accelerate the plasma in the engine.

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Ad Astra To Fly VASIMR Engine on ISS

AD ASTRA PRESS RELEASE

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Ad Astra Rocket Company of Webster, Texas have entered into a Space Act Agreement that could lead to conducting a space flight test of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMRâ„¢) engine on the International Space Station (ISS).

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Ad Astra Reports Progress on VX-200 VASIMR Plasma Rocket

AD ASTRA PRESS RELEASE

The helicon first stage of the VX-200 VASIMR™ plasma rocket prototype has achieved its full power rating of 30 kW with Argon propellant in tests conducted last Wednesday at Ad Astra’s Houston laboratory. The helicon first stage is an essential component of the VASIMR™ rocket and is responsible for generating the core plasma needed by the engine to operate.

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR™ is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMR™ engine could maneuver payloads in space far more efficiently and with much less propellant than today’s chemical rockets. Ultimately, VASIMR™ engines could also greatly shorten robotic and human transit times for missions to Mars and beyond.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Reaches Milestones on VX-200 VASIMR Plasma Rocket

AD ASTRA ROCKET COMPANY PRESS RELEASE

In an internal report to its investors, presented in February of this year, Ad Astra Rocket Company reported the achievement of all its stated milestones in 2007 and presented a revised schedule of testing for the VX-200 VASIMRâ„¢ prototype under development at its Houston facility.

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR™ is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMR™ engine could allow space operations far more efficiently and with much less propellant than today’s chemical rockets. Ultimately, VASIMR™ engines could also greatly speed up robotic and human transit times for missions to Mars and beyond.

Major 2007 milestones achieved included key results from a newly operational VASIMRâ„¢ 100kW test bed, the VX-100 and initiation of manufacturing and subsystem integration for the first flight-like engine prototype, the 200kW VX-200. In addition, the company signed important agreements with NASA and NAUTEL Ltd of Canada.

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