February 20th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rican scientist and astronaut, Franklin Chang, is about to fulfill a dream.
His plasma engine, known as the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, or VASIMR, first imagined three decades ago to make space travel faster and cheaper, is almost ready.
Director of Ad Astra Rocket Costa Rica, Ronald Chang, said that the only thing left is to launch and test the engine in space.
Chang’s mother, Maria Eugenia Diaz, said that she is very proud to see her child’s achievement.
Recently the Costa Rican Aerospace Alliance announced their support of the project by developing an exterior support device for the Chang’s engine to be fitted on the exterior of the International Space Station, as part of the plan to test the VASIMR in space. This test phase is now expected to be conducted in 2014.
The engine could reduce the duration of flight from Earth to Jupiter or Saturn from six years to fourteen months, and Mars from 4 months to 39 days.
Getting the engine into space for testing could cost up to $80 million.