Astrium North America Might Invest in Ad Astra Rocket Company

Media outlets in Costa Rica are reporting on a possible investment by Astrium North America in Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz’s Ad Astra Rocket Company, which is developing the VASIMR rocket.

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.

Read the full story.

Ad Astra Achieves Two Advances on VASIMR Engine

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company reports two important advances with its VX-200 high power VASIMR® engine prototype:

1) a significant increase in its high power performance over previous test data obtained in late 2010, and
2) demonstration of the VASIMR®-unique feature called “Constant Power Throttling” (CPT).

These results will be presented on Monday July 30, 2012 at the 48th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Joint Propulsion Conference in Atlanta, Ga. USA, in the paper entitled: “VASIMR® VX-200 Improved Throttling Range.”


NASA, Ad Astra Sign VASIMR Support Agreement

VX200 engine. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have signed a Support Agreement (Annex 6) to collaborate on aspects of safety, reliability and mission assurance related to the development of VASIMR® technology. As the Agreement reads, the parties will:

“…work together to examine, understand, and document the safety and reliability aspects of the VASIMR® technology and develop a design approach for the flight system that conforms to accepted NASA safety, reliability and mission assurance best practices.”


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…)

Ad Astra, NASA Sign Support Agreement on VASIMR Engine

AARC PR — Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have signed a Support Agreement to collaborate on research, analysis and development tasks on space-based cryogenic magnet operations and electric propulsion systems currently under development by Ad Astra. The agreement was signed on March 2, 2011 by NASA-JSC Director of Engineering, Mr. Stephen J. Altemus and Ad Astra’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Franklin R. Chang Díaz.


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).