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Plasma Rocket

Plasma test shots from the VASIMR VX-100 prototype plasma rocket housed at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The video is slowed down to 1/2 speed. In general, these types of thrusters (ion thrusters, Hall thrusters, and VASIMR) take advantage of extremely high exhaust velocities and generally have the ability to operate continuously for months. Although the thrust is much lower than a chemical rocket, the ultimate speed and/or payload fraction delivered is generally much higher. A new higher power rocket (VX-200) is being constructed and will be tested in a new vacuum chamber that is large enough to drive a full size school bus into (with room to spare). The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) is now operated by the Ad Astra Rocket Company, created by former astronaut Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz (7 Space Shuttle flights). Caption: 1st picture: front view of VX-100 2nd picture: back of vacuum chamber, which houses a translation stage for plasma diagnostics 3rd picture: VASIMR command center 1st video: pneumatic Langmuir probe 2nd video: 10-collector flux probe 3rd video: swinging flux probe (windshield wiper probe) 4th video: large plasma reaction paddle 5th video: small plasma reaction paddle The small plasma reaction paddle has the same diameter and weight as a US half dollar and is made out of titanium. Now featured in Iron Man 2. Ad Astra Rocket Company More pictures of the last shot at:
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