Ad Astra Completes NextSTEP Milestones for Year Two

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) — Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all contract milestones and deliverables for the second of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The 9 million dollar, fixed-price contract remains on schedule and on budget. After a successful year-two performance review at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2017 and completion of a 10-hour cumulative test of the 200SSTM rocket at 100kW, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-three activities.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Completes First Year NextSTEP Milestones

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra Rocket Co. PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company has successfully completed all milestones and deliverables for the first of its three-year Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) contract with NASA. The $9 million-dollar, fixed price agreement, is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions, based on successful completion of project milestones. After a successful year-one performance review, Ad Astra received NASA approval to proceed with year-two activities.

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Ad Astra, NASA Complete Negotiations on NextSTEP Partnership Program

ad_astraWEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA have successfully completed contract negotiations on the company’s Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) award, announced on March 31, 2015, and now enter the execution phase of the project.

The parties executed the contract, a three-year, fixed price agreement, on August 7, 2015 for a total value of just over $9 million. The agreement is structured as a one-year contract with two additional one-year extensions based on the accomplishment of mutually agreed upon progress milestones.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Wins NASA Propulsion Contract

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

WEBSTER, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company has been selected by NASA as one of the winners of the space agency’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) competitive solicitation, which opened in November of 2014. The official announcement was made by NASA on March 30.

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Zubrin Challenges Chang Diaz to Debate Over Mars Exploration, VASIMR Engine

Mars_Soil
There seems to be a trend of prominent space experts challenging each other to debates.

First, New Horizons Supremo Alan Stern challenged Neil deGrasse Tyson to debate whether Pluto should be restored to planetary status. Stern, whose mission will explore Pluto next year, believes it should be elevated from dwarf planet status. Tyson, the driving force behind Pluto’s demotion, refused to debate the subject.

Now, it’s Robert Zubrin’s turn. The Mars Society president has challenged Ad Astra Rocket Company Founder Franklin Chang-Diaz to a debate over how to best explore Mars. Near as I can tell from the press release, it would give Zubrin a chance to demonstrate that Ad Astra’s plasma-based VASIMR engine, which Chang Diaz is promoting for rapid trips to Mars, is pretty much a fraud.

Wow, who could turn down an invitation like that?

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Ad Astra, NASA Agree to Continue Work on VASIMR Engine

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

HOUSTON, Texas (Ad Astra PR) -– Ad Astra Rocket Company and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have signed an Umbrella Space Act Agreement to continue the parties’ collaboration in the development of the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket engine (VASIMR®).

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Launches Clean Hydrogen Energy Project

Ad_Astra_Hydrogen_Project_Collage
Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica (Ad Astra PR) –
Ad Astra Rocket Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Ad Astra Servicios Energéticos y Ambientales, Costa Rica, SRL (AASEA), in partnership with Costa Rica’s state-owned Petroleum Refinery, RECOPE, unveiled today the country’s first hydrogen generation and storage facility, a pilot project focusing on clean, renewable energy with applications in the transportation sector.

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Elects New Director

ad_astraHouston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Former Cummins Inc. (CMI, NYSE) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Theodore “Tim” Solso, an internationally-renowned technology and business leader, has been elected to the Board of Directors of Ad Astra Rocket Company. The vote was cast by the Corporation’s shareholders at their 2013 annual meeting on November 12, 2013, held at the Company’s Texas Headquarters near Houston. Solso’s election accompanies that of eight Directors who compose the nine-member Board. He becomes the 9th member to join the top leadership of the Company. His term begins immediately. All Ad Astra board members are elected annually.

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Former U.S. Ambassador Elected to Ad Astra Rocket Company’s Board

Members of the Ad Astra Houston team welcomed Ambassador Andrew (center) on October 2, 2013, during her first tour of the company’s U.S. facility as a member of the Ad Astra Board of Directors. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)
Members of the Ad Astra Houston team welcomed Ambassador Andrew (center) on October 2, 2013,
during her first tour of the company’s U.S. facility as a member of the Ad Astra Board of Directors. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Former US Ambassador to Costa Rica, Anne Slaughter Andrew, a distinguished attorney, entrepreneur and environmentalist has been elected to the Board of Directors of Ad Astra Rocket Company. The unanimous vote was cast Friday, September 27, 2013, at Ad Astra’s Texas corporate headquarters near Houston during the board’s fourth scheduled meeting of 2013. Ambassador Andrew, a native of Evansville, Indiana, becomes the 8th member of the Ad Astra board and the first female director to join the top leadership of the company. Her term begins immediately and she will stand for re-election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in November. All Ad Astra board members are elected annually.

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Rocket Roundup: VASIMR Kickstarter, Ariane 6 Panned, RD-180 Replacement, and SpaceX at KSC

Ad Astra Launches VASMIR Kickstarter

Ad Astra has launched a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign to raise $46,000 for the creation of a short documentary called “Animating VASIMR®: The Future of Spaceflight.”

Falcon Heavy Launches from KSC?

Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon Heavy. (Credit: SpaceX)

Space News reports that SpaceX appears to be the only bidder to take over operations of PAD 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, which NASA used to launch space shuttles:

NASA declined to comment on how many bids it received in response to a solicitation that closed on July 5, but a survey of U.S. launch companies by SpaceNews shows only SpaceX saying it put in a proposal to take over Launch Complex 39A.

Documents posted on NASA’s solicitation website shows the agency wants to have a commercial operator for Pad 39A in place by Oct. 1, 2013, when funding for maintenance is slated for termination.

UPDATE: Space News now reports that Blue Origin put in a bid for Pad 39A.

DLR Chief on Ariane 6: Meh!

Artist's conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)
Artist’s conception of Ariane 6. (Credit: ESA)

DLR Chairman Johann-Dietrich Woerner still really doesn’t like the plan for Ariane 6:

Johann-Dietrich Woerner, chairman of the German Aerospace Center, DLR, said the German government remains in favor of continued development of the current Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket, with possible evolutions including environmentally acceptable new fuels in place of the vehicle’s current solid-rocket boosters.

“The solution selected seems to be the most workable in terms of costs, but from an environmental point of view we are really taking a step backward,” Woerner said. “But my main point is: What is this launcher for? Is it to make life easy for commercial satellite operators, or is it to assure European launcher autonomy? If it’s the latter, then there are lots of ways of meeting this objective.”

I Can’t Quit You

RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)
RD-180 test firing. (Credit: NASA)

Efforts to develop a domestic alternative to the Russian RD-180 engine that powers the Atlas V are stuck in second gear.

The buy-international model works so well that even an executive with the company working on an American alternative to the RD-180 — which has powered 43 flawless space launches since it made its U.S. debut on Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 3 rocket in 2000 — does not see much urgency on anyone’s part to bring such an engine to market.

“We don’t see a good business case for a pure commercial development of one of these engines,” Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of space programs at Sacramento, Calif.-based Aerojet Rocketdyne, told SpaceNews in a July 9 phone interview. “Not today.”

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Ad Astra Rocket Company Adds New Board Member

ad_astraHOUSTON (Ad Astra PR) – Dr. José Antonio Zaglul Slon, a distinguished educator and current president of EARTH University has been elected to the Board of Directors of Ad Astra Rocket Company. The unanimous vote was cast Friday, April 5, 2013, at the Ad Astra corporate headquarters in Houston, Texas during the board’s second meeting of 2013. Dr. Zaglul, a citizen of Costa Rica, becomes the 7th member of the Ad Astra board and the first outside “non-aerospace” director to join the top leadership of the company, highlighting its diversification. His term begins immediately and he will stand for re-election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in November. All Ad Astra board members are elected annually.

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Ad Astra Research Scientist Presents Findings on Magnetic Nozzles

ad_astraHOUSTON, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Christopher Scott Olsen, a Research Scientist at Ad Astra’s Houston Research Laboratory, formally presented the results of his 5-year company-sponsored PhD research on the physics of magnetic nozzles.

The scientific seminar was conducted yesterday at Rice University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy as part of Olsen’s oral PhD defense before his thesis committee, which included professors Paul Cloutier (emeritus and committee chair), Franklin Chang Díaz (adjunct) and David Alexander, all from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Prof. Frank Tittel from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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Astrium North America Might Invest in Ad Astra Rocket Company

Media outlets in Costa Rica are reporting on a possible investment by Astrium North America in Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz’s Ad Astra Rocket Company, which is developing the VASIMR rocket.

The capital participation in Ad Astra will be in exchange for the construction of the Aurora platform to carry the VASIMR rocket on its initial trials in space. (A model of such a platform was constructed by a consortium of small local aerospace firms last year.)

Specifically, Astrium is interested in using VASIMR to power its Astrium Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV. The ATV is currently in service transporting cargo to the International Space Station.

But the North American subsidiary is interested in using a VASIMR-powered version for such work as establishing and repositioning satellites and space vehicles. The plasma rocket has a longer range than normal chemical rockets and is cheaper to run as well.

Business opportunities were explored last April in a technical assistance agreement signed in the United States.

Read the full story.

Ad Astra Achieves Two Advances on VASIMR Engine

A VASIMR powered space tug. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, Texas (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company reports two important advances with its VX-200 high power VASIMR® engine prototype:

1) a significant increase in its high power performance over previous test data obtained in late 2010, and
2) demonstration of the VASIMR®-unique feature called “Constant Power Throttling” (CPT).

These results will be presented on Monday July 30, 2012 at the 48th American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Joint Propulsion Conference in Atlanta, Ga. USA, in the paper entitled: “VASIMR® VX-200 Improved Throttling Range.”

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NASA, Ad Astra Sign VASIMR Support Agreement

VX200 engine. (Credit: Ad Astra Rocket Company)

Houston, TX (Ad Astra PR) – Ad Astra Rocket Company and NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) have signed a Support Agreement (Annex 6) to collaborate on aspects of safety, reliability and mission assurance related to the development of VASIMR® technology. As the Agreement reads, the parties will:

“…work together to examine, understand, and document the safety and reliability aspects of the VASIMR® technology and develop a design approach for the flight system that conforms to accepted NASA safety, reliability and mission assurance best practices.”

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