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Waiting for Mars, is VASIMR a waste of time and money?

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posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 08:15 PM
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The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket is being
considered as the best bet for next generation propulsion system for space craft.
I only understand the basic concept but to me it has always sounded like a
good alternative to chemical rockets.







This is the current version that has a 200kW output.
I think I read this one will be tested on the ISS this year sometime.
The plan is to make an even bigger nuclear powered one to send
humans to Mars.





Here is a link to the company developing the tech
www.adastrarocket.com

Recently, at the 14th International Mars Society Convention this guy makes
a presentation saying that VASIMR is a HOAX that simply will not work!



Watching the video he makes some good points and makes me think,
Is the US government wasting time and money on something that will
not happen anyway, making us all wait for nothing?

Or is this guy just fixated on old school chemical tech, as he
seems a little bit jealous?
edit on 31-12-2011 by LeLeu because: (no reason given)




posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 08:39 PM
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VASIMR technology is not a hoax...I have been following the concept since I read about it Popular Science about two years ago.

Franklin Chang Diaz seems to know what he's doing.

adastrarocket.com



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 08:48 PM
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Reading a different site regarding this controversy, I thought this quote was interesting:




On the ‘39 days to Mars’ claim, Zubrin says VASIMR would need to couple with a nuclear reactor system with a power of 200,000 kilowatts and a power-to-mass ratio of 1,000 watts per kilogram, while the largest space nuclear reactor ever built, the Soviet Topaz, had a power of 10 kilowatts and a power-to-mass ratio of 10 watts per kilogram.


Using the TOPAZ system as a comparison technology is misleading, as they were experimental 1980s designs based on earlier 1960s concepts...and certaintly not for powering plasma drives on inter-planetary vehicles.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 09:09 PM
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The spacecraft concept pictured above is to be fitted out with 4
50MW nuclear reactors.
If this is the way forward it's going to be a massive star ship

Does anyone know how small a 50MW reactor can be?

I found this but it's for underwater




French defense firm DCNS (Direction des Constructions Navales), a company that has been building submarines for the French navy for more than 40 years, unveiled its Flexblue unit, a reactor combined with a steam turbine/alternator set, that would have a capacity of between 50 MW and 250 MW.



The unit, which includes steam generators, turbines, and a generator, would be encapsulated in a 100-m-long cylinder with a diameter of 12 m to 15 m (Figure 2). It would transmit power to facilities close to shore via undersea cables.


www.powermag.com
edit on 31-12-2011 by LeLeu because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 09:11 PM
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From what ive seen the VASIMR developments are legit.

But personally im looking forward to the release of the heavily suppressed Gravitic Drive based systems


Faster than light speeds say what?!

www.integrityresearchinstitute.org...

Edit: ^ above references to a paper researching this area in science Field Dynamics and whatnot. Specifically is more so referring to a M.E.C but the principles could be applied to a like.... errr. Inertia Based drive


edit on 31-12-2011 by Mandrakerealmz because: clarification



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 09:19 PM
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Originally posted by Mandrakerealmz
From what ive seen the VASIMR developments are legit.

But personally im looking forward to the release of the heavily suppressed Gravitic Drive based systems


Faster than light speeds say what?!

www.integrityresearchinstitute.org...

Edit: ^ above references to a paper researching this area in science Field Dynamics and whatnot. Specifically is more so referring to a M.E.C but the principles could be applied to a like.... errr. Inertia Based drive


edit on 31-12-2011 by Mandrakerealmz because: clarification


Thanks for the link, I had a quick look and it seems really interesting



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 09:35 PM
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Its from a team of Russian scientists who have been working on "Free Energy Devices" specifically magnetic energy converters. A lot of people are taking this seriously
finally going down one of the many paths walked by Nikola Tesla

www.integrityresearchinstitute.org...

The Morning Star team have done quite a lot recently.

I looked into this a while ago and I remember this patent is relevant somehow lol

www.google.com...=onepage&q&f=false

side tracking a bit from propulsion but the fundamental sciences behind it are related



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 09:53 PM
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Originally posted by Mandrakerealmz
From what ive seen the VASIMR developments are legit.
But did you, or anyone else who responded to the OP, watch the video in the OP?

Zubrin made very specific claims and calculations in the OP video and I don't see you or anyone else addressing or responding to them so it appears you responded without even examining the evidence presented in the OP.

I watched the video.

Zubrin makes some valid points. I think he stretches a point to call it a "hoax", but he does make good points about how impractical it is.

Basically I'd sum up Zubrin's presentation as follows:

We already have chemical rocket technology.
We already have ion drive technology.

The advantages and disadvantages of those are well known and documented and both are reliable.

Then we have VASIMR which he explains is inferior in many respects to both those existing technologies. He gives specific examples and calculations. Some of his claims I'll have to research a bit more, but I won't be surprised if I find many of his assumptions are reasonable estimates.

So he's not claiming it won't work at all, just that it's a really dumb idea because it's so much less practical than existing technologies. He does point out that the tests have only lasted a few seconds and he's right about that from the tests I've seen. Here's a video of a really short test:

VASIMR at Full Power

It only operates at full power for 5 seconds. You can't argue with Zubrin that existing technologies like the ion drive have run for hundreds of hours, so 5 seconds is ridiculously short.

There's apparently a cooling problem with VASIMR, if he's right, and that's why the tests are so short. So this is one of the things that makes it NOT legit, if Zubrin is right. He says they would need high temperature superconducting magnets to make it work efficiently which of course don't yet exist.

One of the youtube commenters suggested Zubrin should be in charge of the space program. From what I've seen, he's a lot more action and goal-oriented than some of the previous and existing administrators, so that may not be a bad idea. It's really frustrating to me to see NASA drag its heels when they could be making progress under leadership from someone like Zubrin.

And you folks should really watch the video in the OP before you defend VASIMR.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 10:05 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


Sorry, I should say that the VASIMR concept is valid and I agree that we should work to use existing propulsion technologies to get to Mars.

I do believe however, that developing VASIMR to it's highest potential is worthy of some government funding...for example, I can see a time when large ships equipped with these units ply interplanetary space, perhaps making the Earth-Titan run in a month-imagine the possibilities!



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 10:12 PM
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reply to post by NuminousCosmos
 

So what makes VASIMR better than an ion drive? According to Zubrin's presentation it's far worse.

In other words, couldn't an ion drive do everything VASIMR claims to be able to do but do it better, more efficiently and more reliably?

If Zubrin is right then hooking up a 200 megawatt power plant to an ion drive will get you there faster than hooking up the same power plant to a VASIMR drive, because the ion drive is more efficient, according to him.



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 10:30 PM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 


Correct me if I'm wrong (which is more than likely) but current ion propulsion systems are designed to work at low thrust for extended periods...so a space vehicle can gain high velocity at the cost of several days, weeks, or months of constant low powered acceleration. The VASIMR concept, at least from what I understand, allows for much higher velocities-at a cost to energy consumption, for a gain of reduced travel time to get where you're going.
edit on 12/31/2011 by NuminousCosmos because: fixed grammer



posted on Dec, 31 2011 @ 11:33 PM
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reply to post by LeLeu
 


Surely there has been some proof of concept work done to answer the question. Still, we are needing a lifter to break away from dirt. So rockets would still be in order for that aspect.

Unless, we might surmise, there is a tremendous secret that is being kept from anybody. And of course, there is. Anybody seeing a huge triangle float slowly overhead without a sound or maybe with a slight buzzing will appreciate that those craft have the capability to ignore gravity and mass. By its very nature such a system would seem to be highly effecient, definitely outclassing Earth-leaping rockets and every possible space drive where mass is still a consideration.

Use a little imagination, people, and pry yourself away from what the aviation and space magazines tell you to believe and gaze at the real world. As some of you accept and others reject what the primative and theoretical engines discussed here can achieve in their time, so you can accept or reject the reports of thousands and thousand of people that have witnessed a triangle. I've seen one up close and I positively know that they exist. The twenty other people that saw it along with me would probably agree to some extent. But some would want to say that they were genuine ET craft and others, myself included, would insist that they are our own duplicates of typical UFO drive units.



posted on Jan, 1 2012 @ 01:05 AM
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reply to post by NuminousCosmos
 

I don't think youre necessarily wrong so much as comparing apples to oranges.

Ion drives don't typically have 200 megawatt power plants attached to them, which is why they take so long to speed up. But if you got a bigger ion drive and attached 200 megawatts of power to it, it would accelerate a lot more quickly. I can't confirm that Zubrin is right, but if he is, the VASIMR is less than half as efficient as an ion drive.

Besides, you can't go very fast with only 5 seconds of acceleration which is all that I've seen demonstrated with VASIMR so far.


Originally posted by Aliensun
Unless, we might surmise, there is a tremendous secret that is being kept from anybody. And of course, there is. Anybody seeing a huge triangle float slowly overhead without a sound or maybe with a slight buzzing will appreciate that those craft have the capability to ignore gravity and mass.
It probably is being kept secret, except for the fact Lockheed Martin got a patent on a stealth blimp, so not really. Lighter than air ship technology has been around over a century, just fill the hollow airship with hydrogen or helium. That technology won't help get us into space.
edit on 1-1-2012 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Jan, 1 2012 @ 04:27 AM
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You guys realise that a so called ion drive is still limited by resistance henceforth cannot be used for "FTL" so we should look more towards the electro gravitic field based drives which inherently avoid resistance and also provide inertial dampening also allegedly. From what I understand some of those Russian teams connected to the stuff i was referencing before are looking into this.

Also allegedly Nikola Tesla and a few others went down this route and since the U.S government stole his research..... Is a safe bet if theirs anything to it they have a 100 ish year head start on everyone else....... #s.



posted on Jan, 1 2012 @ 05:20 AM
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reply to post by Arbitrageur
 





Ion drives don't typically have 200 megawatt power plants attached to them, which is why they take so long to speed up. But if you got a bigger ion drive and attached 200 megawatts of power to it, it would accelerate a lot more quickly. I can't confirm that Zubrin is right, but if he is, the VASIMR is less than half as efficient as an ion drive.


Yes your right, and also as Zubrin mentions nuclear reactors of megawatts output currently
dont exist. So the 50 megawatt reactors that are planned also have to be developed adding
to the time and cost when we may finally get to Mars.
There was a nuclear reactor project called Prometheus but that was put on ice about 2006.
Project Prometheus was only looking to achive 100kW, far from 50MW.
The world is waiting for technology that does not exist yet before we even get close to going to Mars.

So should NASA take Zubrin's suggestion and build a big assed chemical rocket and go sooner?
With all the technology still to be developed and built as well as constructing the
massive spacecraft in low orbit, it would be alot cheaper to go now.
I dont want to wait 20 or 30 years, I could be dead then



posted on Jan, 1 2012 @ 11:18 PM
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Originally posted by LeLeu
So should NASA take Zubrin's suggestion and build a big assed chemical rocket and go sooner?
With all the technology still to be developed and built as well as constructing the
massive spacecraft in low orbit, it would be alot cheaper to go now.
I dont want to wait 20 or 30 years, I could be dead then
I think so. The part of Zubrin's claim I need to research further is that Mars astronauts wouldn't be exposed to more radiation than some ISS astronauts.

If true, that's really one of the last technical barriers I'm aware of. Even if you accept Zubrin's numbers of cancer risk, they aren't that low, even for the ISS astronauts. But astronauts come from fields like former test pilots who seem to be natural risk-takers so a 1% cancer risk to them for a chance to go to Mars is probably tolerable.

I've seen some pretty good mission plans where you wouldn't do it all in one trip with a huge rocket. The better plans use at least 4 separate trips to Mars using smaller rockets, and set up things like fuel and oxygen making factories on the surface long before the astronauts ever even arrive, so they don't have to carry all they need with them for the return trip. Yes, I think we should go for it, and NASA should use Zubrin as a consultant to help get us there faster, but I suspect they hate his guts because he's been so critical of them, so I don't know how that would work. They could put Zubrin in charge, but then NASA would actually do something, which the Obama administration seems to want to prevent, or at least delay until they are out of power.



posted on Jan, 1 2012 @ 11:22 PM
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Originally posted by Mandrakerealmz
You guys realise that a so called ion drive is still limited by resistance henceforth cannot be used for "FTL" so we should look more towards the electro gravitic field based drives which inherently avoid resistance and also provide inertial dampening also allegedly.
The key word is allegedly.

Allegedly Santa Claus was delivering my Christmas presents and the Easter Bunny was delivering my easter candy. But I get the impression that not everything which is alleged is necessarily true, don't you?



posted on Jan, 2 2012 @ 12:01 AM
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ooh sorry i just try to think in scopes of what needs to be accomplished. Someone with the mind frame of "Nothing can ever go faster than the speed of light" will be doomed to produce an inferior product as opposed to someone who is open to the possibilities or actively looking at it as the issue to crack.

We should aim high....



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