Costa Rican scientist and former NASA astronaut, Franklin Chang, confirmed that last Wednesday the plasma engine being developed in Costa Rica was started for the first time so far this year.
This confirms that we are ready to start with a series of necessary tests before taking the engine into space.
“Last Wednesday, when the first launch attempt was to be made (of the SpaceX), in our laboratory (in Guanacaste) we fired the plasma engine for the first time this year. We were in the process of updating, adjusting and changes to the design. It had not been lit until then, and it fired perfectly,” confirmed Chang.
“Starting next Monday we start a high-powered firing campaign to reach 100 kilowatts, which is what NASA is waiting for, and once that testing phase is finished, a second phase begins to build an engine that can fly in space,” explained Chang.
The former astronaut’s expectation is that the engine is ready to be tested in space in three years. “We could be living this same moment that we are living today (with the launch of SpaceX), but with the plasma engine, around the year 2024 or early 2025.”
Chang also confirmed that initially, the vision they have with the plasma engine is to offer cargo transportation services in the vicinity of the Earth and the Moon and that the missions to Mars will come later.
According to the AdAstra’s website, “The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) engine is a new type of electric thruster with many unique advantages. In a VASIMR® engine, gas such as argon, xenon, or hydrogen is injected into a tube surrounded by a magnet and a series of two radio wave (RF) couplers The couplers turn cold gas into superheated plasma and the rocket’s magnetic nozzle converts the plasma thermal motion into a directed jet.”