Author Topic: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing  (Read 328 times)

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Online kevindavis

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NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« on: August 11, 2017, 08:54:43 PM »

Most of today's rockets are chemical rockets, which means they propel themselves through space by combining certain chemicals in a way that makes them explosive. Chemical rockets are heavy and fast-burning, which is great for getting off the surface of Earth, but less great for long voyages to the outer solar system.


For these longer trips, NASA is looking at using a new type of rocket: the plasma rocket.


NASA awarded a contract to the company Ad Astra back in 2015 to build a plasma rocket, and that rocket is rapidly approaching readiness. The company has been running several short tests of the engine and is preparing for a longer, 100-hour test. Once that happens sometime next year, the rocket engine will be closer to real missions.


The plasma rocket, the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR), works by heating neon or argon gas to incredibly high temperatures using magnetic fields. That hot plasma is then fired out of the back of the rocket at very high speeds, providing thrust.


The plasma rocket has an advantage over traditional chemical propellants in that it can provide a small amount of thrust over a very long time, such as days, weeks, or months. Longer burn times mean the rocket needs less fuel, and less fuel means the rocket can carry more cargo. Of course, longer burn times also means longer travel times, but when you're just ferrying around supplies a few extra weeks or months isn't too important.


In addition to carrying cargo, plasma rockets could be used to send spacecraft to distant targets more quickly. Plasma rockets could enable us to reach Jupiter, Saturn, or more distant targets in a year or two instead of the better part of a decade, which could mean more missions to the outer solar system.


In a few short years, plasma might be propelling us around the solar system.


Source: http://www.isn-news.net/2017/08/nasas-new-plasma-rocket-ready-for.html
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Online kevindavis

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GOP House members came to Paul Ryan to be Speaker. He didn't come to them. And he was everybody's conservative darling back in 2012. So unless 1 of the remaining 240 wants to step up & do a better job in budgeting & negotiations & herding the party cats, then everybody please STFU. You go to battle with the army you have, not the one you want but don't have.

Kevin Davis

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds.

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Online Cripplecreek

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2017, 11:11:49 PM »
Now we need lots of thrust over long periods of time.

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Online kevindavis

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2017, 05:01:21 PM »
Now we need lots of thrust over long periods of time.


Yep.. It is only a matter of time in when the Chemical rockets are obsolete.
GOP House members came to Paul Ryan to be Speaker. He didn't come to them. And he was everybody's conservative darling back in 2012. So unless 1 of the remaining 240 wants to step up & do a better job in budgeting & negotiations & herding the party cats, then everybody please STFU. You go to battle with the army you have, not the one you want but don't have.

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Online the_doc

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2017, 05:43:34 PM »

Yep.. It is only a matter of time in when the Chemical rockets are obsolete.

Thanks for the interesting article, @kevindavis!

Offline EC

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2017, 06:01:04 PM »
Looking forward to the 100 hour test results on this. Some of the shorter tests, IIRC, have hinted that the engine is significantly more efficient than originally thought.
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Online kevindavis

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2017, 06:01:57 PM »
Thanks for the interesting article, @kevindavis!


Your welcome @the_doc
GOP House members came to Paul Ryan to be Speaker. He didn't come to them. And he was everybody's conservative darling back in 2012. So unless 1 of the remaining 240 wants to step up & do a better job in budgeting & negotiations & herding the party cats, then everybody please STFU. You go to battle with the army you have, not the one you want but don't have.

Kevin Davis

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Offline Joe Wooten

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 08:59:54 PM »
Nuclear thermal with a dual cycle is the answer. To get out of or into planetary orbits, use the high thrust  mode. Once your ship is past escape velocity, then switch the reactor over to closed cycle for electricity production and power up the VASIMIR.

Online kevindavis

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2017, 10:01:03 PM »
Nuclear thermal with a dual cycle is the answer. To get out of or into planetary orbits, use the high thrust  mode. Once your ship is past escape velocity, then switch the reactor over to closed cycle for electricity production and power up the VASIMIR.


But the anti nuke in space crowd will find a way to stop it.
GOP House members came to Paul Ryan to be Speaker. He didn't come to them. And he was everybody's conservative darling back in 2012. So unless 1 of the remaining 240 wants to step up & do a better job in budgeting & negotiations & herding the party cats, then everybody please STFU. You go to battle with the army you have, not the one you want but don't have.

Kevin Davis

With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds.

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Offline Elderberry

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 08:28:44 AM »
https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/nasas-longshot-bet-on-a-revolutionary-rocket-may-be-about-to-pay-off/



Quote
The rocket

The rocket engine starts with a neutral gas as a feedstock for plasma, in this case argon. The first stage of the rocket ionizes the argon and turns it into a relatively “cold” plasma. The engine then injects the plasma into the second stage, the “booster,” where it is subjected to a physics phenomenon known as ion cyclotron resonance heating. Essentially, the booster uses a radio frequency that excites the ions, swinging them back and forth.

As the ions resonate and gain more energy, they are spun up into a stream of superheated plasma. This stream then passes through a corkscrew-shaped nozzle and is accelerated out of the back of the rocket, producing a thrust.

Such an engine design offers a couple of key benefits over most existing propulsion technology. Perhaps most notably, unlike chemical rockets, the plasma rocket operates on electricity. As it flies through space, therefore, it does not need massive fuel tanks or a huge reservoir of liquid hydrogen and oxygen fuel. Instead, the rocket just needs some solar panels.

The Sun powers both the production of plasma and the booster exciting the plasma, and the extent to which it does either can be shifted. When a spacecraft needs more thrust, more power can be put into making plasma. This process uses more propellant, but it provides the thrust needed to move out of a gravity well, such as Earth orbit. Later, when the vehicle is moving quickly, more power can be shifted to the booster, providing a higher specific impulse and greater fuel economy.

“It’s like shifting gears in a car,” Chang-Díaz explained. “The engine doesn’t change. But if you want to climb a hill, you put more of your engine power into torque and less into rpm, so you climb the hill, slowly, but you’re able to climb. And when you’re going on a freeway, flat and straight, you upshift. You’re not going to go to Mars in first gear. That’s the problem. It’s why we run out of gas going to Mars with a chemical engine.”

Another benefit of the engine's design is that the plasma remains confined within a magnetic field, inside the engine, throughout the burn. In practical terms, this should greatly reduce the wear and tear on the engine—which is useful if you’re designing a spacecraft to eventually fly people around the entire Solar System.

Crusan said NASA wants to bring electric propulsion into the trade space for human transport to Mars. This might mean a combination of a chemical rocket and an electric engine. It might also lead to an even more powerful electric engine. Right now, it may not be clear whether any of the experimental approaches will work, but NASA would like to find out, for a modest investment, before it gets serious about planning human missions to Mars.
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Offline Joe Wooten

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2017, 10:29:52 PM »

But the anti nuke in space crowd will find a way to stop it.

Maybe in the US and Europe, but not China or India........Russia is a walking corpse, They'll never get farther than LEO.

Offline Joe Wooten

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2017, 10:30:45 PM »

Online Free Vulcan

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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2017, 10:44:30 PM »
Full impulse Mr. Sulu.
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Re: NASA's New Plasma Rocket Ready For Testing
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2017, 10:52:17 PM »
NASA needs to get back in the space business. Most of the NASA budget is going to subsidize the Russian space industry.The U.S. has paid Russia $3.4 billion for rides on its Soyuz rocket, NASA could have saved $1 billion of that if it had met its original goal of flying human missions in 2015.It makes me wonder whether they are serious about a home grown space program and will continue sending unmanned craft into space or continue their privatization to companies like SpaceX.


http://www.businessinsider.com/astronaut-cost-per-soyuz-seat-2016-9
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 11:08:24 PM by Mad Max »


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