Package Delivery and Trash Pickup, Courtesy of the VASIMR Rocket

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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.

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Could VASMIR Make Human Mars Missions Feasible?

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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.

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Ion Engines Could Make Mars Trips Routine

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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.

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