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A Flight Demonstration of Plasma Rocket PropulsionThe Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center has been engaged in the development of a variable specific impulse magnetoplasma rocket (V ASIMR) for several years. This type of rocket could be used in the future to propel interplanetary spacecraft and has the potential to open the entire solar system to human exploration. One feature of this propulsion technology is the ability to vary its specific impulse so that it can be operated in a mode that maximizes propellant efficiency or a mode that maximizes thrust. Variation of specific impulse and thrust enhances the ability to optimize interplanetary trajectories and results in shorter trip times and lower propellant requirements than with a fixed specific impulse. In its ultimate application for interplanetary travel, the VASIMR would be a multi-megawatt device. A much lower power system is being designed for demonstration in the 2004 timeframe. This first space demonstration would employ a lO-kilowatt thruster aboard a solar powered spacecraft in Earth orbit. The 1O-kilowatt V ASIMR demonstration unit would operate for a period of several months with hydrogen or deuterium propellant with a specific impulse of 10,000 seconds.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Petro, Andrew
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Chang-Diaz, Franklin
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Schwenterly, WIlliam
(Oak Ridge National Lab. TN, United States)
Hitt, Michael
(NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Lepore, Joseph
(Science Applications International Corp. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
July 17, 2000
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
AIAA Paper 2000-3751
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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