An unmanned cargo capability based on VASIMR propulsion offers significant cost savings to NASA and commercial lunar exploration programs. VASIMR can deliver twice as much payload to the lunar surface, compared to chemical propulsion, if used as a 'tug boat' between Low Earth Orbit and Low Lunar Orbit. At the present, chemical propulsion always has to be used to climb out of Earth's atmosphere and into a Low Earth Orbit, in addition to the final lunar landing descent.
Beyond VX-200 (VASIMR Experimental, 200 kW) and VF-200 (VASIMR Flight, 200 kW) demonstrations, the Ad Astra Rocket Company plans to fill a developing high power transportation niche near Earth for orbit maintenance of large space structures for commerce and tourism and satellite repositioning, retrieval and re supply. Longer term applications for which VASIMR may be ideally suited include: the delivery of large payloads to the lunar surface, recovery of space resources from asteroids and comets and propelling cargo and human missions to Mars and beyond.