Author Topic: VASIMR on the ISS  (Read 32671 times)

Offline nacnud

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VASIMR on the ISS
« on: 08/06/2008 01:22 PM »
Flight international mentions that NASA [plans] to test plasma engine on space station.

Good news but it leaves open the question of how it is to get there.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2008 01:52 PM by nacnud »

Offline simonbp

Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #1 on: 08/06/2008 04:13 PM »
Interesting indeed. I suppose it depends on how large the test article might be, but this sounds like a job for Cygnus Unpressurised...

Simon ;)

Offline lewis886

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #2 on: 08/06/2008 08:34 PM »
yes... it's a job for the Cygnus   
hehe...   :D ;)   sorry, couldn't resist ;)



Offline pm1823

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #3 on: 08/06/2008 11:45 PM »
Oh no, repair SARJ first. :)

Offline Patchouli

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #4 on: 08/07/2008 01:50 AM »
Sounds like a great idea Cygnus unpressurised or the HTV would be an idea vehicle to send it up on.

Not sure if it would fit in Dragon's cargo trunk it might though depends on the size of the VASIMR engine and it's related hardware.

Just make sure either of the three vehicles have done a few grunt work resupply missions first before risking something NASA might only build once.

One interesting part of the installation is it would entitle routing some very large power cables to the engine from the station's main power but it would be more then worth the effort.

It would give the US side reboost capability lost when the shuttle retires and reduce the need for propellant on the Russian side.
One nice thing is it can use the waste hydrogen from the elektron units or even recovered waste water the crew might not want to drink out of the ick factor as propellant.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2008 01:51 AM by Patchouli »

Offline nacnud

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #5 on: 08/07/2008 02:36 AM »
Well the new ECLSS vents hydrogen into space, no idea if this can be collected and used though.

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #6 on: 08/07/2008 12:51 PM »
I am glad NASA is bringing this great technology forward.  It could be a key to getting to Mars.

Danny
Danny Deger

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #7 on: 08/24/2008 11:47 PM »
The prototype/engineering model VASIMR appears to be undergoing ground testing at the moment.  Here is a YouTube video.


They claim that nominally, the VX-200 will produce 5 N (~1.1lbf) at a 5,000 s Isp.  It uses 200 kW and argon as a propellant.

Notes:
  ISRU Argon is extractable from the atmosphere of Mars.
  The current mass of the ISS is about 278 000 kg.
  So a VASIMR should be able to supply the ISS's station keeping delta-v in less than a month.

Offline Jorge

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #8 on: 08/25/2008 12:44 AM »
The prototype/engineering model VASIMR appears to be undergoing ground testing at the moment.  Here is a YouTube video.


They claim that nominally, the VX-200 will produce 5 N (~1.1lbf) at a 5,000 s Isp.  It uses 200 kW and argon as a propellant.

Notes:
  ISRU Argon is extractable from the atmosphere of Mars.
  The current mass of the ISS is about 278 000 kg.
  So a VASIMR should be able to supply the ISS's station keeping delta-v in less than a month.

Too bad ISS can only generate 110 kW of power...
JRF

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #9 on: 08/26/2008 01:03 AM »
Too bad ISS can only generate 110 kW of power...

That sounds like a good opportunity to test the new 100 kW solar arrays.
http://www.entechsolar.com/SPRAT-XX-SLA-SEP.pdf

At 300 w/kg

200 000/300 = 667 kg

Offline Jim

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #10 on: 08/26/2008 01:17 AM »
That sounds like a good opportunity to test the new 100 kW solar arrays.


The link is meaningless, it isn't going to happen

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #11 on: 11/21/2008 07:57 PM »
Too bad ISS can only generate 110 kW of power...

So, it will have to run in pulsed mode, then. Or, perhaps they can just throttle down the power or send up the VX-100 (100 kW)--would be called the VF-100--instead.

This VASIMR thing is what is going to make lunar/martian bases and asteroid mining possible. It will make Martian missions much faster and/or cheaper. What do you think the probability is of VASIMR actually being used operationally (not just experimentally) in under 10 years (not counting the ISS, of course)?

300 W/kg sounds very good for the stretched-lens solar panels, much better than nuclear (inside Mars or asteroid belt orbit) and probably a lot cheaper, too. Of course, it may be simpler (lighter?) to use Nanosolar sort of solar panels, which are also dirt-cheap as a bonus.

Maybe the stretched-lens and VASIMR people can get together and make a joint proposition to NASA (or, heck, DoD) to use them for orbital correction services (obviously not on the ISS)? Sounds viable if they can offer it for dirt cheap for the first launch (like, $10 million + launch costs).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #12 on: 12/10/2008 08:47 PM »
300 W/kg sounds very good for the stretched-lens solar panels, much better than nuclear (inside Mars or asteroid belt orbit) and probably a lot cheaper, too. Of course, it may be simpler (lighter?) to use Nanosolar sort of solar panels, which are also dirt-cheap as a bonus.

That is 300 w/kg at LEO and Lunar orbit.  Due to the extra distance from the sun the arrays in Mars orbit produce about 300 * 0.4 = 120 w/kg

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #13 on: 12/10/2008 09:03 PM »
300 W/kg sounds very good for the stretched-lens solar panels, much better than nuclear (inside Mars or asteroid belt orbit) and probably a lot cheaper, too. Of course, it may be simpler (lighter?) to use Nanosolar sort of solar panels, which are also dirt-cheap as a bonus.

That is 300 w/kg at LEO and Lunar orbit.  Due to the extra distance from the sun the arrays in Mars orbit produce about 300 * 0.4 = 120 w/kg
I was mentally taking that into account for that post, although I didn't mention it. Of course a 300 W/kg solar-powered system near Earth would have less power near Mars. My point was that even with the decreased amount of sunlight at Mars, solar power is still close to nuclear power energy density, if not above. Discussed here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=15071.0
« Last Edit: 12/10/2008 09:31 PM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #14 on: 12/14/2008 06:29 AM »
Just saw this on slashdot ( http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/12/13/1624258 ):
Toren Altair brings news that NASA and the Ad Astra Rocket Company finalized a Space Act Agreement earlier this week ( http://spacefellowship.com/News/?p=7685 ) to test the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) on the International Space Station. The agreement hinges on a series of requirements for the thruster's performance and efficiency in ground-based tests. "The primary technical objective of the project is to operate the VASIMR VF-200 engine at power levels up to 200 kW. Engine operation will be restricted to pulses of up to 10 minutes at this power level. Energy for these high-power operations will be provided by a battery system trickle-charged by the ISS power system. These tests will mark the first time that a high-power, steady-state electric thruster will be used as part of a manned spacecraft."

This answers a lot of questions.
« Last Edit: 12/14/2008 06:30 AM by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline sandrot

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #15 on: 12/14/2008 02:45 PM »
I am providing a link to the original Ad Astra press release.

http://www.adastrarocket.com/AdAstra-NASA_PR12Dec08.pdf
"Paper planes do fly much better than paper spacecrafts."

Offline GraphGuy

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #16 on: 12/15/2008 11:16 PM »
I have high hopes for VASIMR and am glad that it will finally be heading to the ISS.  I wish that it could run in continuously, but obviously Chang-Diaz and NASA think that this is a perfectly adequate test run.

I wonder how long it would take for VASIMR running in high ISP mode to do a human crewed Jupiter flyby?  Forget Mars, send people by the outer planets :)

Offline Patchouli

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #17 on: 12/16/2008 12:35 AM »
If it works it should save a lot on reboost propellant which means there will be more cargo for other supplies.
I really hope it gets launched and tested in space because VASIMR is an enabling technology even more important then an HLLV.

Stuff like this really should get a lot more funding.
« Last Edit: 12/16/2008 12:49 AM by Patchouli »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #18 on: 12/16/2008 02:12 AM »
That sounds like a good opportunity to test the new 100 kW solar arrays.


The link is meaningless, it isn't going to happen

If the large Entech solar array has been cancelled are there any other ones under development?  Possibly by SRS Technologies?

Offline GraphGuy

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #19 on: 12/16/2008 05:27 PM »
That sounds like a good opportunity to test the new 100 kW solar arrays.


The link is meaningless, it isn't going to happen

If the large Entech solar array has been cancelled are there any other ones under development?  Possibly by SRS Technologies?

Well VASIMR on ISS is using batteries.  The batteries trickle charge and I assume VASIMR runs in burst mode.  I'd still like to see a technology demonstrator that uses VASIMR and nuclear power to test continuous usage of both engine and power source.

I'd like to see VASIMR in a tug/Mars craft using a scaled down Hyperion reactor (say 1MW electricty, 3 MW waste heat) with a 5 year lifetime.  A small and inherently safe self moderating nuclear reactor + a high ISP plasma engine could really open the solar system up.

I don't know how viable a solar VASIMR tug would be if it had to take large solar pannels through the Van Allen belt many many times.  Then again I don't know if you could get congress to authorize nuclear power in LEO.

Online wannamoonbase

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #20 on: 12/16/2008 06:11 PM »
I don't know if you could get congress to authorize nuclear power in LEO.
These are the guys that were holding baseball steroid hearings while the world financial system imploded.

I'm pretty LEO nuke power is at least 50 years away.

SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline JimO

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #21 on: 12/17/2008 04:16 PM »
I presume they'll run the Plasma Contact Units during the firing, to ground the ISS into the ionosphere. Don't want to build up any more big static charges and fry more Russian hardware!!


Offline erioladastra

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #22 on: 12/19/2008 07:59 PM »
I presume they'll run the Plasma Contact Units during the firing, to ground the ISS into the ionosphere. Don't want to build up any more big static charges and fry more Russian hardware!!



What hardware do you refer to?  Non has been fried though there may be some impact on the Soyuz pyro bolts.

Offline Riley1066

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #23 on: 02/16/2009 04:42 PM »
Once the VASIMR system is delivered where would it be placed on the station? On top of Z1?
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Offline jabe

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #24 on: 07/06/2009 11:21 PM »
Came across this article on testing of VASIMR.
http://spacefellowship.com/2009/07/06/vx-200-demonstrates-superconducting-first-stage-at-full-power/
upcoming tests should be interesting..I wish them luck.  I hope they will be able to get it up to the station someday...

jb

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #25 on: 07/07/2009 01:38 AM »
{snip}

I don't know how viable a solar VASIMR tug would be if it had to take large solar pannels through the Van Allen belt many many times.  Then again I don't know if you could get congress to authorize nuclear power in LEO.

To achieve radiation hardness the solar panels could be replaced by a solar thermal power system, possibly based on mirrors and Stirling engines.  Power stations containing 25 kW solar Stirling engines are currently being built in California.  If they cannot buy space rated ones Ad Astra probably have the mechanical engineering knowledge to build their own.

Offline 8900

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #26 on: 07/11/2009 09:53 AM »
I don't know if you could get congress to authorize nuclear power in LEO.
These are the guys that were holding baseball steroid hearings while the world financial system imploded.

I'm pretty LEO nuke power is at least 50 years away.
LEO nuclear reactors exist long ago, they're not 50 years away, and nuclear(reactor)-powered satellites have been flown. but those reactors deployed in space in the past were mainly low-power
reference:
http://www.eoearth.org/article/Nuclear_reactors_for_space

Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #27 on: 10/09/2009 10:29 PM »
1) How long would it take to change declination of ISS into equatorial by VF-200?
2)  What possibilities would this new orbit enable?

Offline LegendCJS

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #28 on: 10/09/2009 10:42 PM »
1) How long would it take to change declination of ISS into equatorial by VF-200?
2)  What possibilities would this new orbit enable?

What I have heard is that the ISS won't function in an equatorial orbit.  It was designed for the thermal environment of the orbit it is in, and it would not cope with an equatorial thermal environment...  It was in some old speech by Mike Griffin tho, so take the statement as you wish.
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #29 on: 10/10/2009 02:28 PM »
I dont think that these 45 minutes light outside the earth shadow are so different orbiting equatorial than orbiting 51,6 inclinated.  While the earth circles around the sun the orbit will get oriented comparable with an equatorial orbit.  Therefore i consider the statement as wrong.

I wonder that there are no ideas for the ISS in an equatorial orbit.
The ISS could server as base for missions to the moon and return.  That means that a spacecraft returning from the moon can air-break in the earth atmosphere and then dock on the ISS.  A visit to the moon won't unavoidable mean that a crew have to start from earth ground and not unavoidable have to return there.  Afaik the ISS did get this inclination because Russia did need this inclination to be able to access the ISS from their launch sites.  Because Roskosmos could launch from Korou this won't be absolutely necessary.   I didn't find unsolvable problems to make it.

I hope i will hear more ideas what advantages the ISS in eq.oribt would have for extended usage.  I did find a couple and i am surprised to hear nothing.

Offline hop

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #30 on: 10/10/2009 08:18 PM »
Afaik the ISS did get this inclination because Russia did need this inclination to be able to access the ISS from their launch sites.
Neither US nor Japanese launch sites would be able reach ISS in an equatorial orbit. (Except Kwaj for the US, but that's nowhere close to supporting a manned launcher.)
Quote
Because Roskosmos could launch from Korou this won't be absolutely necessary.
Roskosmos is not involved in the Kourou Soyuz project. Moreover, the site isn't equipped to support Soyuz spacecraft.

This is all pretty OT to vasimr, but I guess that isn't going to launch for a long time anyway ;)

Offline A_M_Swallow

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #31 on: 10/10/2009 10:48 PM »

I wonder that there are no ideas for the ISS in an equatorial orbit.
The ISS could server as base for missions to the moon and return.  That means that a spacecraft returning from the moon can air-break in the earth atmosphere and then dock on the ISS.  A visit to the moon won't unavoidable mean that a crew have to start from earth ground and not unavoidable have to return there.{snip}

When moving house it is not normal to take the building with you.
If you want a spacestation in equatorial orbit build one there.  Pay Bigelow a billion dollars and you should get a reasonable one.

Offline Jim

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #32 on: 10/11/2009 12:24 PM »

I hope i will hear more ideas what advantages the ISS in eq.oribt would have for extended usage.  I did find a couple and i am surprised to hear nothing.

There isn't an advantage for the ISS.  Other stations, yes.   The biggest problem is supporting the ISS during the transition from 51 degrees.  It takes a lot time and it could get stuck in no mans land.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #33 on: 10/11/2009 12:31 PM »
The ISS could server as base for missions to the moon and return.

It can do that in its current orbit too.
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Offline Integrator

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #34 on: 10/12/2009 12:54 AM »
The knee jerk rocket propulsion guy's reaction is "it would take as much propellant to change ISS inclination to 28 degrees as to ship it to lunar orbit!" This is based on simplistic brute force thinking.

There is another, more elegant, clever way to decrease ISS orbital inclination: a small thruster burst every equator crossing in the right vector will eventually change the inclination.  Like tacking into the wind, it would probably take months to transit ISS from 51 to 28 degree inclination, but there is no doubt it could be done. 

However, this transition would change the mission of ISS and place her in a favorable translunar departure orbit and bring her into alignment with an exploration architecture.  As she flies now, ISS is headed towards a dead end and doomed to deorbit.  Such a waste!  Yes inclination does matter, for departure of exploration missions. Standard inclination change manuevers done in hours or minutes cost a lot of propellant.

Some theory is in this reference, there are better papers out there, this is all I can find right now:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/4037617/01MXER

It may be possible to do this using VASMIR and no tether.  The station itself generates significant electrostatic potential by virtue of its sheer size and transit through Earth magnetic field lines.  This is currently energy that must be bled off, in other words, it is wasted. It is significant.  It may be enough for Vasmir. This excess charge is no mystery or secret.  At present it is seen at best as a nuisance, at worst as a safety hazard, especially to astronauts on EVA.

ISS is not a house, she is a ship, she can go wherever we want her to go.  If it were me, I would put an electrostatic thruster up there and then move her so we could use her as an assembly point and supply depot for outward-bound exploration missions.  The only other option is to scuttle her.
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Offline Hungry4info3

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #35 on: 10/12/2009 02:01 AM »
If you wish to send ISS out of LEO, do you have anything in mind about radiation protection?

Offline Integrator

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #36 on: 10/12/2009 11:02 AM »
Who said anything about orbit beyond LEO?  We are just discussing using VASMIR to change the orbit inclination and maintain altitude margin.

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Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #37 on: 10/12/2009 11:11 AM »
The only other option is to scuttle her.

ISS doesn't have to be moved to be useful for exploration. It's more useful in its current orbit if you want international cooperation. And you cannot always launch straight into the moon's orbital plane anyway.
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Offline simon-th

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #38 on: 10/12/2009 11:23 AM »
Who said anything about orbit beyond LEO?  We are just discussing using VASMIR to change the orbit inclination and maintain altitude margin.

The orbital inclination of the ISS won't be changed. It's a non-started out of a multitude of reasons, most notably international partners being fundamentally against it. It's an odd discussion anyway, considering this is a VASIMR thread and when (or better if) VASIMR is ultimately flown to the ISS and used as an experiment (!) is totally up in the air.

Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #39 on: 10/12/2009 12:28 PM »
Is there any "perfect" LEO orbit for getting back and forth to the Moon. It doesn't seem like there would be from the data:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbit_of_the_Moon

Anyway, ISS is all we have, and it is where it is. Anything change to those facts requires budget money. *If* having a manned service station is valuable to a hypothetocal VASIMR-drive space tug capable of on-orbit refuelling and of travelling repeatedly between LLO and various L-points, then ISS where it is probably the cheapest we can do. I guess if VASIMR works out and saves money on altitude-management ATV/Progress flights to ISS, that'd be at least a little budget money saved.

Question: Is Ad Astra paying anything for the proposed launch to ISS? And if it works out, would the ISS partnership be paying Ad Astra for the future use of the hardware? (Seems like a potential good deal all around if the answer to both questions is, no.)

Offline Integrator

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #40 on: 10/12/2009 02:37 PM »
"International Partners" means the Russians who launch manned missions from 51 north at present.  If encouraged [ie funded] they could launch manned missions from Kourou.  They have been building this capability for some time now. As for the Japanese, Tanegashima is at 30 degrees north.  Chinese Xichang is at 27 deg 57' N. and Jiuquan is at 40 deg 57' N.

The point is, if VASIMR works for ISS orbit raising, it could also work for orbit inclination change.

As with all ideas, it is only possible when people decide it can be done.  If there is only support for status quo and the advantages of other possible scenarios can not be visualized, then the idea is "impossible" a priori.  The stated reasons that make this idea 'impossible' are all political, and not based on physics.

New ideas start with "what if...?"  Sadly, I think most Americans have forgotten how to ask this question.
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Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #41 on: 10/12/2009 02:56 PM »
"International Partners" means the Russians who launch manned missions from 51 north at present.  If encouraged [ie funded] they could launch manned missions from Kourou.  They have been building this capability for some time now. As for the Japanese, Tanegashima is at 30 degrees north.  Chinese Xichang is at 27 deg 57' N. and Jiuquan is at 40 deg 57' N.

The point is, if VASIMR works for ISS orbit raising, it could also work for orbit inclination change.

As with all ideas, it is only possible when people decide it can be done.  If there is only support for status quo and the advantages of other possible scenarios can not be visualized, then the idea is "impossible" a priori.  The stated reasons that make this idea 'impossible' are all political, and not based on physics.

New ideas start with "what if...?"  Sadly, I think most Americans have forgotten how to ask this question.

We want the same "encouragement" as the Russians.

Offline Integrator

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #42 on: 10/12/2009 03:12 PM »

We want the same "encouragement" as the Russians.

Yes, the question is, how would this change the overall architecture, what would be the net cost pluses and minuses of an ISS in 30 degree inclination orbit wrt outward bound exploration, assuming full international cooperation?  It could be a depot for fuels and other consumables, in-space construction 'dry-dock' for assembly of large vehicles, return decontamination and rest before return to Earth...of what value is a large, semi-permanent, multifunctional outpost in this location to incoming and outgoing traffic? 

...versus having nothing there.
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Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #43 on: 10/12/2009 04:03 PM »
Yes, the question is, how would this change the overall architecture, what would be the net cost pluses and minuses of an ISS in 30 degree inclination orbit wrt outward bound exploration, assuming full international cooperation?  It could be a depot for fuels and other consumables, in-space construction 'dry-dock' for assembly of large vehicles, return decontamination and rest before return to Earth...of what value is a large, semi-permanent, multifunctional outpost in this location to incoming and outgoing traffic? 

...versus having nothing there.

VASIMR could be a good way to change the orbit of the ISS. But all the things you say can be done - and should but likely won't - from its current orbit. What's the urgency to move ISS?
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Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #44 on: 10/12/2009 04:24 PM »
Yes, the question is, how would this change the overall architecture, what would be the net cost pluses and minuses of an ISS in 30 degree inclination orbit wrt outward bound exploration, assuming full international cooperation?  It could be a depot for fuels and other consumables, in-space construction 'dry-dock' for assembly of large vehicles, return decontamination and rest before return to Earth...of what value is a large, semi-permanent, multifunctional outpost in this location to incoming and outgoing traffic? 

...versus having nothing there.

VASIMR could be a good way to change the orbit of the ISS. But all the things you say can be done - and should but likely won't - from its current orbit. What's the urgency to move ISS?

The other question is whether it matters enough to bother, at whatever cost. Aren't the launch windows for the Moon much more important to chemical propulsion than something like VASIMR? Von Braun has a line in "The Mars Project" pointing out a space station is any orbit is not important to his fleet, because even if you assemble it at one, you won't be able to return to it, due to the realities of orbital mechanics. But if you've got a little extra delta-v, that's not so.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #45 on: 10/12/2009 04:48 PM »
Von Braun has a line in "The Mars Project" pointing out a space station is any orbit is not important to his fleet, because even if you assemble it at one, you won't be able to return to it, due to the realities of orbital mechanics. But if you've got a little extra delta-v, that's not so.

Or higher Isp, or aerobraking or a higher energy orbit. Propulsive braking back to a Lagrange point is perfectly possible - even with ... tadadada ... hypergolics.
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Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #46 on: 10/12/2009 05:14 PM »
Who said anything about orbit beyond LEO?  We are just discussing using VASMIR to change the orbit inclination and maintain altitude margin.

The orbital inclination of the ISS won't be changed.
Statements about future have to be taken with care because not every aspect of future is already determined be present.

It's a non-started out of a multitude of reasons, most notably international partners being fundamentally against it.
I don't think so.  Who is it?

It's an odd discussion anyway, considering this is a VASIMR thread and when (or better if) VASIMR is ultimately flown to the ISS and used as an experiment (!) is totally up in the air.

Does that mean that all discussion in this thread is suffers from a weak base?  The question is not "What is VF-200 is invented for?" but "What is VF-200 capable for?"

Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #47 on: 10/12/2009 05:15 PM »
Von Braun has a line in "The Mars Project" pointing out a space station is any orbit is not important to his fleet, because even if you assemble it at one, you won't be able to return to it, due to the realities of orbital mechanics. But if you've got a little extra delta-v, that's not so.

Or higher Isp, or aerobraking or a higher energy orbit. Propulsive braking back to a Lagrange point is perfectly possible - even with ... tadadada ... hypergolics.

I think Von Braun was thinking of very low Isp hypergolics (in the middle 200s). His 3-stage shuttles were 4x the size of Saturn V for a 20mT payload (iirc) and the fleet was going to take 900 launches to assemble!

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #48 on: 10/12/2009 05:25 PM »
I think Von Braun was thinking of very low Isp hypergolics (in the middle 200s). His 3-stage shuttles were 4x the size of Saturn V for a 20mT payload (iirc) and the fleet was going to take 900 launches to assemble!

But he was assuming using hypergolics from LEO, wasn't he? Nowadays we could use cryogenic propulsion from LEO to L1/L2, and hypergolics only from L1/L2 to Earth swingby through TMI. And we could preposition propellant using electric propulsion, initially SEP but later on maybe VASIMR.

The idea of returning to a space station is perfectly possible. LEO would be more difficult than L1/L2, but not impossible with VASIMR or aerobraking. On the other hand, you don't really need a whole station, a depot or even just a refuelable transfer vehicle acting as a depot would be good enough. On the other hand, if you have one anyway, why not use it? It seems more useful on the outbound leg than on the inbound leg though.

But why oh why do we need to change the orbit of the ISS for that? VASIMR could be an excellent way of doing it but I haven't heard an explanation why the orbit needs to be changed. It looks like a solution in search of a problem. I'm all for finding initial applications for VASIMR, especially VASIMR on the ISS, but I don't think changing the inclination of the orbit of the ISS is that application. Why not just use VASIMR to reboost its orbit periodically?
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Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #49 on: 10/12/2009 05:45 PM »
The other question is whether it matters enough to bother, at whatever cost.
Almost nothing is for free but all consumables are on the ISS for free and could at least cheap produced there.  Unused Hydrogen gets blown into space.  That could get the fuel for VF-200.   If you realize a cascade with the existing cooling aggregates you can perhaps produce the coolant for the superconductors of VF-200.  At least oxygen is liquefiable at nitrogen is close.

Aren't the launch windows for the Moon much more important to chemical propulsion than something like VASIMR?

Do you mean using VASIMR between earth and moon?  Excellent idea! But why drop every time a spacecraft that can get cheap refueled?  To keep such a spacecraft in orbit would get much easier if you have an orbital spaceport in LEO.

Von Braun has a line in "The Mars Project" pointing out a space station is any orbit is not important to his fleet, because even if you assemble it at one, you won't be able to return to it, due to the realities of orbital mechanics.  But if you've got a little extra delta-v, that's not so.

Well, the technology that Von Braun did thought about was totally based on chemical drives.  His thoughts are therefore often outdated and in this case it's obviously outdated.  It's anyway curious to argue in a VASIMR-thread against a space station in a (more) equatorial orbit with an architecture that is totally based on chemical drives.

I think Jules Verne space cannon also won't have any advantage by a space station. :D

Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #50 on: 10/12/2009 06:17 PM »

But he was assuming using hypergolics from LEO, wasn't he? Nowadays we could use cryogenic propulsion from LEO to L1/L2, and hypergolics only from L1/L2 to Earth swingby through TMI. And we could preposition propellant using electric propulsion, initially SEP but later on maybe VASIMR.

The idea of returning to a space station is perfectly possible. LEO would be more difficult than L1/L2, but not impossible with VASIMR or aerobraking. On the other hand, you don't really need a whole station, a depot or even just a refuelable transfer vehicle acting as a depot would be good enough. On the other hand, if you have one anyway, why not use it? It seems more useful on the outbound leg than on the inbound leg though.

But why oh why do we need to change the orbit of the ISS for that?
If we change the ISS's orbit to same inclination as the moon have you don't have to wait for ca. 2 weeks to get a new window.  This means increased flexibility for missions.

VASIMR could be an excellent way of doing it but I haven't heard an explanation why the orbit needs to be changed.
Nobody did say that the orbit have to get changed.

It looks like a solution in search of a problem.

That was basically concern of my question what advantages a ISS in equatorial orbit would have.   I think this question is valid.

I'm all for finding initial applications for VASIMR, especially VASIMR on the ISS, but I don't think changing the inclination of the orbit of the ISS is that application.

My concern is not making use of VASIMR but to improve the use of the ISS and to improve the conditions for constellation.

Why not just use VASIMR to reboost its orbit periodically?

That's obvious and already intended and published by AdAstra in this month.

If it's it's not a problem for Japan to launch from 28 into 51,6 inclination
they won't have problems more problems to launch instead into 0 declination.  That means that the new orbit would be not badder for their HTV.   Therefore i can't see a strong reason to stop changing orbit from 51,6 at 28.

At moment the ISS have an "exclusive" inclination.  If the ISS have a very common inclination a lot of new opportunities would appear.   I think if there is no reason against changing it and it's economic=possible to change it it's should be ok to think about reasons to to change it.

Offline Stephan

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #51 on: 10/12/2009 06:21 PM »
If we change the ISS's orbit to same inclination as the moon have you don't have to wait for ca. 2 weeks to get a new window.  This means increased flexibility for missions.
Nodal regression will rotate your orbit plane out of moon plane.
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Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #52 on: 10/12/2009 06:31 PM »
Nodal regression will rotate your orbit plane out of moon plane.

Exactly. Which incidentally is part of why L1/L2 are much better staging points. But the idea of using ISS as a staging point is a very good one, more so on the outward journey than on the return journey and more so with smaller launchers than with HLV. It can be done from the current orbit of the ISS, it could be done from a lower inclination. VASIMR is a good idea. ISS staging is a good idea. Current ISS orbit and lower inclination orbits are all fine. VASIMR might be a good way to move the ISS should we want to. The international partners seem to prefer the current orbit.

But the bigger point is the ISS is under enormous threat from SDLV, though fortunately not in the short term. On the other hand and unfortunately action may have to be taken soon to make sure ISS has a future beyond 2020. ISS staging makes much less sense with HLV and heavy upper stages. SDLV consumes so much money there will not be an ISS after 2020 if there is an SDLV unless NASA gets more money. ISS is an excellent proving ground for VASIMR, but also for things like automated docking and rendez-vous, bioregenerative life support systems etc. It is also a potential anchor customer for commercial manned spaceflight. Making sure ISS continues to exist at all is much more important than changing its orbit.
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Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #53 on: 10/12/2009 07:26 PM »
The other question is whether it matters enough to bother, at whatever cost.
Almost nothing is for free but all consumables are on the ISS for free and could at least cheap produced there.  Unused Hydrogen gets blown into space.  That could get the fuel for VF-200.   If you realize a cascade with the existing cooling aggregates you can perhaps produce the coolant for the superconductors of VF-200.  At least oxygen is liquefiable at nitrogen is close.

Aren't the launch windows for the Moon much more important to chemical propulsion than something like VASIMR?

Do you mean using VASIMR between earth and moon?  Excellent idea! But why drop every time a spacecraft that can get cheap refueled?  To keep such a spacecraft in orbit would get much easier if you have an orbital spaceport in LEO.

Von Braun has a line in "The Mars Project" pointing out a space station is any orbit is not important to his fleet, because even if you assemble it at one, you won't be able to return to it, due to the realities of orbital mechanics.  But if you've got a little extra delta-v, that's not so.

Well, the technology that Von Braun did thought about was totally based on chemical drives.  His thoughts are therefore often outdated and in this case it's obviously outdated.  It's anyway curious to argue in a VASIMR-thread against a space station in a (more) equatorial orbit with an architecture that is totally based on chemical drives.

I think Jules Verne space cannon also won't have any advantage by a space station. :D

What I had in mind when I mentioned it was a VASIMR tug between ISS (where it is) and LLO (or L1/2). Obvious a VASIMR tug would be reusable. I was just questioning the value of moving ISS, esepcially since there is no LEO orbit that will stay coplanar with lunar orbit without ongoing orbital plane changes. As for Jules Verne's cannon, yes we can continue to drift the thread, especially if we don't pay careful attention to what was actually posted (which had nothing to do with advocating for chemical propulsion). What's being ignored is, it will cost money to move ISS. Is it worth it, or would the money be better spent elsewise? Lets no forget VASIMR isn't a fuelless space drive!

Offline hop

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #54 on: 10/12/2009 07:52 PM »
"International Partners" means the Russians who launch manned missions from 51 north at present.  If encouraged [ie funded] they could launch manned missions from Kourou.  They have been building this capability for some time now.
No they haven't. People keep saying this and it's simply not true. Soyuz (launch vehicle) from Kourou is a commercial venture that has nothing to do with the Russian manned program. The Russians are not "working" on Soyuz (spacecraft) launches for Kourou, and if they do move their manned operations, it will almost certainly be to somewhere inside their own territory.
Quote
As for the Japanese, Tanegashima is at 30 degrees north.
And so would be completely unable to reach an equatorial orbit with a reasonable amount of fuel, just like KSC.
Quote
Chinese Xichang is...
Totally irrelevant.

Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #55 on: 10/12/2009 08:04 PM »
Nodal regression will rotate your orbit plane out of moon plane.

Understand.   0 declination would mean a coplanar nodal regression.

Exactly. Which incidentally is part of why L1/L2 are much better staging points. But the idea of using ISS as a staging point is a very good one, more so on the outward journey than on the return journey and more so with smaller launchers than with HLV. It can be done from the current orbit of the ISS, it could be done from a lower inclination. VASIMR is a good idea.  ISS staging is a good idea.

I did think about using a heavy Orion-variant between ISS and LLO and using the ISS to exchange the TPS with a fresh because it gets used by  air-brakes.  Orion-lite could serve between EG0 (earth ground) and a heavy (expensive) Orion-heavy could deal the route between ISS and LLO.

Current ISS orbit and lower inclination orbits are all fine. VASIMR might be a good way to move the ISS should we want to. The international partners seem to prefer the current orbit.  But the bigger point is the ISS is under enormous threat from SDLV, though fortunately not in the short term.

It doesn't make any sense to me to burn your house to buy a new car.

On the other hand and unfortunately action may have to be taken soon to make sure ISS has a future beyond 2020. ISS staging makes much less sense with HLV and heavy upper stages. SDLV consumes so much money there will not be an ISS after 2020 if there is an SDLV unless NASA gets more money.

Did read about 20% more budget are intended.  :D

ISS is an excellent proving ground for VASIMR, but also for things like automated docking and rendezvous, bioregenerative life support systems etc. It is also a potential anchor customer for commercial manned spaceflight. Making sure ISS continues to exist at all is much more important than changing its orbit.

If the worth of the ISS could get increased, for example by a changed orbit, and the ISS the existence of the ISS is more safe.  Therefore is "Making sure ISS continues to exist at all is much more important than changing its orbit." perhaps not correct because changing the orbit could help to continue to exist.  It's at least no reason not to think more about but reverse.  If the lesser inclination enables to operate the ISS cheaper than that's also a reason to extend the ISS's lifetime.  ESA and Roskosmos could lift from Korou ca. 10% more freight to the ISS without inclination.


The other question is whether it matters enough to bother, at whatever cost.
Almost nothing is for free but all consumables are on the ISS for free and could at least cheap produced there.  Unused Hydrogen gets blown into space.  That could get the fuel for VF-200.   If you realize a cascade with the existing cooling aggregates you can perhaps produce the coolant for the superconductors of VF-200.  At least oxygen is liquefiable at nitrogen is close.

Aren't the launch windows for the Moon much more important to chemical propulsion than something like VASIMR?

Do you mean using VASIMR between earth and moon?  Excellent idea! But why drop every time a spacecraft that can get cheap refueled?  To keep such a spacecraft in orbit would get much easier if you have an orbital spaceport in LEO.

What I had in mind when I mentioned it was a VASIMR tug between ISS (where it is) and LLO (or L1/2). Obvious a VASIMR tug would be reusable.

I did find thoughts about powering five VF-200 with 1MW.  Therein is a lot to interprete.

What's being ignored is, it will cost money to move ISS.  Is it worth it, or would the money be better spent elsewise? Lets no forget VASIMR isn't a fuelless space drive!

Fuel is for free if you take the hydrogen from their oxygen-generator that produce oxygen from water and they blow into space.  VF-200 can work with hydrogen.  I didn't find any significant necessary consumable that isn't there for free or can't get produced there.  Therefore i think it's almost for free.

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #56 on: 10/12/2009 08:09 PM »
It doesn't make any sense to me to burn your house to buy a new car.

House = ISS and car = SDLV? If so, we agree.
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Offline SpaceWarper

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #57 on: 10/13/2009 01:43 PM »
It doesn't make any sense to me to burn your house to buy a new car.

House = ISS and car = SDLV? If so, we agree.

we agree ;)

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #58 on: 01/04/2010 05:22 PM »
maybe if they use  heavy xenon and not h2 vasimr engine will have greater performance?
why not carry some noble heavy gas to iss, to test the true potencial of vasimr?

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #59 on: 01/22/2010 11:32 PM »
maybe if they use  heavy xenon and not h2 vasimr engine will have greater performance?
why not carry some noble heavy gas to iss, to test the true potencial of vasimr?
Or Argon. Xenon is so expensive.

Also, is there any more news of VASIMR?

It looks like they have certainly updated their website so it looks a little more professional.

Apparently, the ISS-version of VASIMR (the 200kw total VF-200-1) will be a double-thruster design, with the two electromagnets being in opposite directions, forming a quadrapole so they do not exert a torque on the space station. Also, the superconducting electromagnets will recycle their coolants (I read a press release of them receiving the coolant-recycling superconducting magnet) and I believe is planned to use waste hydrogen (this is not new).

Their current ground-testing version, the 200kw VX-200, is a single-thruster design.

Once the VASIMR system is delivered where would it be placed on the station? On top of Z1?

Here's an updated animation/image of the VASIMR payload on the ISS (click on it to see the animation, which shows where it's currently planned to go on the ISS):
http://www.adastrarocket.com/aarc/VASIMRISS
« Last Edit: 01/22/2010 11:37 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Aexalon

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #60 on: 01/25/2010 09:39 PM »
Flight international mentions that NASA [plans] to test plasma engine on space station.

Good news but it leaves open the question of how it is to get there.

18 months later: do we have any idea about how NASA plans to get the VF-200 to the ISS?

Could it fit into the unpressurised segment of a HTV? If not, they would be almost surely forced to obtain Russian means of delivery.

Offline TrueBlueWitt

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #61 on: 01/25/2010 09:50 PM »
Flight international mentions that NASA [plans] to test plasma engine on space station.

Good news but it leaves open the question of how it is to get there.

18 months later: do we have any idea about how NASA plans to get the VF-200 to the ISS?

Could it fit into the unpressurised segment of a HTV? If not, they would be almost surely forced to obtain Russian means of delivery.

Orbit using domestic means then use an already docked ATV or HTV to ferry it to the station?  I was thinking Progress initially, but I don't think it has sufficient station keeping capabilities.

Offline Zipi

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #62 on: 01/26/2010 06:01 AM »
Orbit using domestic means then use an already docked ATV or HTV to ferry it to the station?  I was thinking Progress initially, but I don't think it has sufficient station keeping capabilities.

HTV don't have automatic docking system, so it probably cannot ferry anything but itself. I'm not an expert but I would imagine an ATV would be able to dock with VASIMR. Maybe the launch should be so that VASIMR is launched first and after that ATV is launched to dock and ferry it to the ISS. After robotics graple the VASIMR, ATV would undock from it, move back for a little while and the perform nominal docking procedure to the aft port of Zvedzda.

But the question is, is this kind of arrangement needed or can VASIMR be carried by Dragon or HTV directly with one launch?
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Offline arkaska

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #63 on: 01/26/2010 09:18 AM »
Orbit using domestic means then use an already docked ATV or HTV to ferry it to the station?  I was thinking Progress initially, but I don't think it has sufficient station keeping capabilities.

HTV don't have automatic docking system, so it probably cannot ferry anything but itself. I'm not an expert but I would imagine an ATV would be able to dock with VASIMR. Maybe the launch should be so that VASIMR is launched first and after that ATV is launched to dock and ferry it to the ISS. After robotics graple the VASIMR, ATV would undock from it, move back for a little while and the perform nominal docking procedure to the aft port of Zvedzda.

But the question is, is this kind of arrangement needed or can VASIMR be carried by Dragon or HTV directly with one launch?

ATV can't approach the station on the US side but only on the Russian side since it's docking system need the "targets" on Zevzda aft, and you can't fly it manually close to the station.

Offline William Barton

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #64 on: 01/26/2010 10:59 AM »
Orbit using domestic means then use an already docked ATV or HTV to ferry it to the station?  I was thinking Progress initially, but I don't think it has sufficient station keeping capabilities.

HTV don't have automatic docking system, so it probably cannot ferry anything but itself. I'm not an expert but I would imagine an ATV would be able to dock with VASIMR. Maybe the launch should be so that VASIMR is launched first and after that ATV is launched to dock and ferry it to the ISS. After robotics graple the VASIMR, ATV would undock from it, move back for a little while and the perform nominal docking procedure to the aft port of Zvedzda.

But the question is, is this kind of arrangement needed or can VASIMR be carried by Dragon or HTV directly with one launch?

ATV can't approach the station on the US side but only on the Russian side since it's docking system need the "targets" on Zevzda aft, and you can't fly it manually close to the station.

Wasn't there a ULA plan to use ATV to haul Atlas V-launched cargo modules to ISS in exactly this way?

Offline kenny008

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #65 on: 01/26/2010 03:05 PM »
Flight international mentions that NASA [plans] to test plasma engine on space station.

Good news but it leaves open the question of how it is to get there.

18 months later: do we have any idea about how NASA plans to get the VF-200 to the ISS?

Could it fit into the unpressurised segment of a HTV? If not, they would be almost surely forced to obtain Russian means of delivery.

I've been wondering this same thing, and decided to shoot off an email to Ad Astra.  I mentioned the problems with HTV and ATV.  They answered me very quickly:

Dear Ken,
     There is no definite plan yet.  Possible options may be Orbital Sciences Cygnus or SpaceX Dragon.
Sincerely,
Andrew




Offline arkaska

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Re: VASIMR on the ISS
« Reply #66 on: 01/26/2010 04:45 PM »

Wasn't there a ULA plan to use ATV to haul Atlas V-launched cargo modules to ISS in exactly this way?

That required a big design change...among things outfitting with CBM so it could dock with the US side.

I would assume (not sure) that it would use the same docking-system and that this would be installed on a CBM on the US side. Since ATV wasn't awarded the contract with NASA there was/is no need to put the ATV docking target/laser on the US side and I would doubt they would do it just for this case. And I still don't know if ATV can approach the station and then stop there since the whole approach is automatic. There is a failsafe but that would take the ATV away from station and not put it stationary hold. 

But as kenny008 wrote the most likely vehicle for transporting it to ISS would be one of the US cargo vehicles. 
« Last Edit: 01/26/2010 04:46 PM by arkaska »

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