The VF-200 is the first flight unit of the VASIMR® engine. It will be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) where the thrust and performance can be measured without the limitations of pumping and pressure found in ground-based space simulation chambers. The VF-200 will consist of two 100 kW thruster units packaged together in one engine bus. The magnetic field of each thruster will be oriented in opposite directions in order to make a zero-torque magnetic quadrapole, which is important when operating in low earth orbit because the magnetic field of the earth and magnet want to be aligned. The magnetic quadrapole will also improve the performance of the VF-200 magnetic nozzle.
The VF-200 is being designed to reach the steady-state operating temperature to prove that it is capable of operating indefinitely for future missions. The VF-200 will use electrical power from the ISS to charge a large battery pack capable of powering the thruster for approximately 15 minutes at full power. The VF-200 project will serve as a “pathfinder” for the ISS National Laboratory by demonstrating a new class of larger, more complex science and technology payload.