VASIMR Plasma Ion Engine – For real!

Call me a nerd, but this is pretty exciting. We’re just starting to make use of things other than rockets for propulsion. Next year NASA is launching an ion engine to attach to the International Space Station for the purpose of keeping its orbit steady in the drag of LEO (Low Earth Orbit), and we’ve a spacecraft en route to orbit two asteroids propelled by a similar device. The deployment ofvthe ion engine to the ISS will apparently save NASA $200 million a year on fuel, and I bet a huge portion of thst cost would have been getting that fuel up there in the first place, saving more fuel by not having to shoot fuel up there. I mean lots of funky ideas have been put forward to overcome the problem of rockets being too heavy (or otherwise too small/weak) for long duration space travel, but a scaled up version of this technology might actually be a go.

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