Press Release

The Explorers Club Hosts Plasma Rocket Demo With Astronauts Scott Carpenter and Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz

By SpaceRef Editor
June 20, 2012
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The Explorers Club Hosts Plasma Rocket Demo With Astronauts Scott Carpenter and Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz

Ad Astra Rocket Facility, 2 p.m., Friday, June 22, 2012, Webster, Texas

A promising rocket technology for a manned mission to Mars is the VASIMR advanced plasma propulsion system being developed in Webster by the Ad Astra Rocket Company. The demonstration of the VASIMR rocket engine prototype, called the VX-200 (for VASIMR Experimental at 200 kilowatts), will be hosted at the Ad Astra research facility by The Explorers Club, the international exploration organization, at 2 p.m., Friday, June 22, 2012. Also attending will be legendary astronaut Scott Carpenter who flew in 1962 as part of the Mercury program, and Ad Astra’s Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz who has flown to space seven separate times, all aboard the Shuttle.

The VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) uses an electrically conducting gas, called a plasma, that can be heated to extreme temperatures by radio waves and controlled and guided by strong magnetic fields. It is the most advanced rocket propulsion system of its kind and is considered a potential enabler for the future of space exploration. Its high fuel efficiency compared to that of a conventional chemical rocket allows double the payload mass for lunar delivery and a major reduction in the transit time to Mars. Plasma rockets feature exhaust velocities far above those achievable by their chemical cousins, so their fuel consumption is extremely low.

Scott Carpenter, in Houston to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his historic Aurora 7 spaceflight, will receive an Explorers Club award at a gala benefit at the Hilton Houston Hotel, at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 23, 2012 (3000 NASA Parkway).

The Friday media event, attended by Explorers Club President Alan Nichols, will also feature Explorers Club Fellow Jim Clash interviewing Carpenter and Chang-Diaz before an audience at Ad Astra to kick-off the Club’s new “Exploring Legends” series. The live chats will be filmed for airing later on the Club’s web site.


Astronauts Scott Carpenter and Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz (, and Explorers Club President Alan Nichols (


2 p.m., Friday, June 22, 2012


Ad Astra Rocket Co., 141 West Bay Area Blvd., Webster, TX, Tel. 281 526 0500. The company is located 3 miles west of the NASA Johnson Space Center near the intersection of Bay Area Blvd. and Highway 3.


John Holder, Program Chairman, 512 331 1011, c 512 699 9642,

Jeff Blumenfeld, The Explorers Club director of communications, 203 655 1600, c 203 326 1200, (


John Holder
Program Chairman
512 331 1011
c 512 699 9642

Email Contact
Jeff Blumenfeld
The Explorers Club
director of communications
203 655 1600
c 203 326 1200
Email Contact

SpaceRef staff editor.