Toren Altair brings news that NASA and the Ad Astra Rocket Company finalized a Space Act Agreement earlier this week to test the unpredictable set Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) on the International Space Station. The agreement hinges on a series of requirements for the thruster's attainment and efficiency in ground-based tests. "The primary specialized objective of the project is to operate the VASIMR VF-200 engine at power levels up to 200 kW. Engine operation will be or wholehearted.
limited to pulses of up to 10 minutes at this power level. Energy for these high-power operational research will be supposing by a battery system trickle-charged by the ISS power system. These tests will mark the first time that a high-power, steady-state magnetic thruster will be used as part of a manned spacecraft." Reader clarkes1 points out related news of a runway trial for Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, the mothership that is designed to carry SpaceShipTwo from the ground to 50,000 feet. A very brief video shows the oddly-shaped plane moving down a runway under its own power.
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