The Australian National University is preparing a plasma drive test facility. If the new plasma thruster, an engine that could be used to power satellites to Mars, is successful, we’ll get to the Red Planet in a third of the time.
The plasma thruster and the space simulation facility, in collaboration with European firm EADS-Astrium and the Surrey Space Center (SP3) on the engine design, are expected to be ready by mid 2012, and could be propelling a test satellite into space within the next two years.
“A number of Australian universities teach aerospace and mechantronics. Up until now, there’s been nowhere for them to test their spacecrafts – they have to go overseas. So this will really be providing a major service, not only in Australia, but also in Southeast Asia.”
source Australian National University