Lunar Run

Ride along on an unmanned lunar cargo trip with the VASIMR plasma rocket developed by Ad Astra, a company founded by former astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz. The silent video starts with an animation of the VX-200 experimental rocket in the company‘s vacuum chamber, and compares the VASIMR with a chemical rocket. A future operational VASIMR is then shown launched into low Earth orbit on a traditional, chemically powered rocket. A second launcher delivers another, heaver load consisting of fuel, cargo, and a lunar lander. These link up in orbit with VASIMR, which then switches on and burns argon for four months. The spacecraft slowly accelerates, spiraling out of Earth’s gravitational field and off to the moon. The plasma rocket delivers 75 tons of cargo, whereas a traditional chemical rocket, though faster, arrives at the moon with just 35 tons. Video: Ad Astra (10:53)