WEBSTER, Texas USA and HALIFAX, NS, Canada – A new generation radio-frequency (RF) Power Processing Unit (PPU) for the VASIMR engine, built by Aethera Technologies Ltd. of Canada, has completed a series of full power acceptance tests at Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Texas facility near Houston. The unit completed these tests on August 12 by operating in a thermal steady-state with no anomalies at its full power rating of 120 kW.
The RF PPU is now ready to be incorporated into Ad Astra’s vacuum facility so that it can be tested with the VX- 200SS VASIMR prototype. These tests are part of Ad Astra’s ongoing program under the NASA NextSTEP partnership contract.
WEBSTER, 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.
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…)
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.
The VX-200 low temperature superconducting magnet has been delivered to Ad Astraâ€™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 VASIMRâ„¢ engine and is responsible for generating the strong magnetic field required to fully heat and accelerate the plasma in the engine.
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).
The helicon first stage of the VX-200 VASIMRâ„¢ plasma rocket prototype has achieved its full power rating of 30 kW with Argon propellant in tests conducted last Wednesday at Ad Astraâ€™s Houston laboratory. The helicon first stage is an essential component of the VASIMRâ„¢ rocket and is responsible for generating the core plasma needed by the engine to operate.
Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMRâ„¢ is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMRâ„¢ engine could maneuver payloads in space far more efficiently and with much less propellant than todayâ€™s chemical rockets. Ultimately, VASIMRâ„¢ engines could also greatly shorten robotic and human transit times for missions to Mars and beyond.
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, VASIMRâ„¢ is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMRâ„¢ engine could allow space operations far more efficiently and with much less propellant than todayâ€™s chemical rockets. Ultimately, VASIMRâ„¢ 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.