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Costa Rica's Radical Rocket

Getting to Mars' or anywhere else in the solar system-may be easier with Ad Astra Rocket Co.'s plasma thruster

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Photo: Randi Silberman
MOTHER SHIP: In Houston, at Ad Astra’s headquarters, a larger version of the thruster is installed inside a vacuum chamber. Cryogenically cooled superconducting magnets wrap the plasma in magnetic fields and two stages of radio-frequency heating accelerate the plasma out a magnetic nozzle. This thruster can operate at 200 kilowatts, and higher power levels will enable it to produce even more thrust. The next step will be to build and test a 500-kw thruster.
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