Commercial Plasma Rocket Reaches 200 KW, an Important Milestone
Developed by former astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz, the engine could change a lot about how we interact with space. The new rocket, driven by plasma, is able to use cheaper fuels like neon, argon, or hydrogen, while providing finer control over thrust and specific impulse — two key parameters that determine a rocket’s movement and speed. The new rocket is also much safer and more reliable than traditional chemical rockets, reducing the risks associated with space flight.
The engine exhausts plasma, a fourth state of matter along with solids, liquids, and gases. Plasma is essentially ionized gas. It is typically created via either low pressure or extremely high heat (10,000° C or more). Plasma consists of a mix of electrons and positively charged gas ions.