Ad Astra Rocket, the company of former Costa Rican astronaut Franklin Chang, continues to advance in the development of Vasimr VX-200SS, the plasma engine with which it seeks to change the transportation industry.
A major milestone was achieved the week before by breaking the record for plasma firing power and duration, moving closer to the goal of more efficient and energy-efficient devices. Although the experiment was done on June 30th in Texas, it was published last week. As reported by the company, the shot sustained a power level of 82.5 kW for 28 hours, far more than any other similar test to date.
The humans behind the engine
The Vasimr engine is one of a kind. It seeks to preserve the high power of a chemical rocket but with ten times the fuel efficiency. Once developed, it could serve multiple tasks in the space industry, ranging from deploying satellites to taking manned missions to Mars.
“We are very proud of the Ad Astra team. Their technical excellence, tenacity and dedication are reflected in this achievement”, stated Chang. “No other electric plasma rocket, at this power levels and technological preparation, has reached the combination of power and power of the Vasimr engine”, he added.
Matthew Giambusso, in charge of the experiments, stressed on his part that the achievements have been achieved with rather small work teams. According to the scientist, the goal is to achieve a design that sustains a power of 100 kW, which they are already approaching.
How far would Vamisr go?
With the right models, the plasma engine is expected to cheapen the entire space travel environment. Plasma itself consists of a gas system heated to extreme temperatures by radio frequency waves and guided by strong magnetic fields, which also provide insulation. Its space use must be adapted to extreme conditions, because while the temperature inside the engine is millions of degrees, the exterior will be extremely cold.