Catapult Mission for Sending a Probe to Deep Space
In a solar-powered mission design concept, a VASIMR® driven spacecraft starting in the Earth's gravitational Sphere of Influence (SOI) can deliver a 4,000 kg payload to the Jupiter system in about 2.8 years. As a point of reference, NASA’s 3,625 kg Juno spacecraft, launched in the summer of 2011 by an Atlas V 551, will take over 5 years to reach its destination at Jupiter.
The Ad Astra space catapult concept could deliver fast payloads to interplanetary destinations. The solar electric space tug is recovered and may be re-used in future missions.