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RE: starship-design: The Way ahead & Bugs
VASIMR stands for something like VAriable Specific Impulse Magnetic Rocket.
I may have the exact acronym translation wrong but that is the import. It
use the equivalent of a super microwave tube to heat hydrogen to a plasma
which is then funneled out of a magnetic nozzle. Unlike most rocket engines,
this one can be "tuned" to deliver varying amounts of thrust. It is also
very powerful and efficient by today's standards. NASA says it could put a
crew around Mars in three months with this drive.
There are full performance figures available on the web.