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PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS

 
With Video
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10/07/2009 08:59 PM
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PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Last Wednesday, the Ad Astra Rocket Company tested what is currently the most powerful plasma rocket in the world. As the Webster, Texas, company announced, the VASIMR VX-200 engine ran at 201 kilowatts in a vacuum chamber, passing the 200-kilowatt mark for the first time. The test also marks the first time that a small-scale prototype of the company's VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) rocket engine has been demonstrated at full power.


"It's the most powerful plasma rocket in the world right now," says Franklin Chang-Diaz, former NASA astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra. The company has signed an agreement with NASA to test a 200-kilowatt VASIMR engine on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2013. The engine could provide periodic boosts to the ISS, which gradually drops in altitude due to atmospheric drag. ISS boosts are currently provided by spacecraft with conventional thrusters, which consume about 7.5 tonnes of propellant per year. By cutting this amount down to 0.3 tonnes, Chang-Diaz estimates that VASIMR could save NASA millions of dollars per year.

But Ad Astra has bigger plans for VASIMR, such as high-speed missions to Mars. A 10- to 20-megawatt VASIMR engine could propel human missions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more. The shorter the trip, the less time astronauts would be exposed to space radiation, which is a significant hurdle for Mars missions. VASIMR could also be adapted to handle the high payloads of robotic missions, though at slower speeds than lighter human missions.

Chang-Diaz has been working on the development of the VASIMR concept since 1979, before founding Ad Astra in 2005 to further develop the project. The technology uses radio waves to heat gases such as hydrogen, argon, and neon, creating hot plasma. Magnetic fields force the charged plasma out the back of the engine, producing thrust in the opposite direction. Due to the high velocity that this method achieves, less fuel is required than in conventional engines. In addition, VASIMR has no physical electrodes in contact with the plasma, prolonging the engine's lifetime and enabling a higher power density than in other designs.

[link to www.physorg.com]
Anonymous Coward
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10/07/2009 09:13 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
bump for coolness.....whats 39 days to mars in mph?
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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10/07/2009 09:29 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Bump
Anonymous Coward
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10/07/2009 09:34 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
[link to www.spaceportamerica.com]
funky cold madina

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11/17/2009 11:32 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
is this alien tech?
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 11:49 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
[link to www.youtube.com]

Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 11:53 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
is this alien tech?
 Quoting: funky cold madina


No.
This is HUMAN tech.
Give your species some credit ffs.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 11:54 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
I watched the video, didn't seem to be going very fast at all
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 11:56 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
A 10- to 20-megawatt VASIMR engine could propel human missions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more.
 Quoting: With Video 779392


WOW!
That's a big leap... this is a massive breakthrough.

Anybody good at math?
How long would it take to get to the moon using this?
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 11:59 AM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
A 10- to 20-megawatt VASIMR engine could propel human missions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more.


WOW!
That's a big leap... this is a massive breakthrough.

Anybody good at math?
How long would it take to get to the moon using this?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 820754


around 18 hours I'd say
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:03 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
The Horizon mission to Pluto passed the orbit of the moon in less than 9 hours after take-off and was launched on a conventional chemical propulsion rocket (Atlas V first stage with Centaur upper stages) It was going about 48,000 miles per hour when it passed Jupiter. Zoom!!!
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:07 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
A 10- to 20-megawatt VASIMR engine could propel human missions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more.


WOW!
That's a big leap... this is a massive breakthrough.

Anybody good at math?
How long would it take to get to the moon using this?


around 18 hours I'd say
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 728812


my bad, 6.5 hours
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:43 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
A 10- to 20-megawatt VASIMR engine could propel human missions to Mars in just 39 days, whereas conventional rockets would take six months or more.


WOW!
That's a big leap... this is a massive breakthrough.

Anybody good at math?
How long would it take to get to the moon using this?


around 18 hours I'd say


my bad, 6.5 hours
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 728812

You have to speed up and slow down also.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:46 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Well, compared to other rockets, this one must definitely have an advantage - it is pocket size.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:46 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
i'm sure it's been around for ages. this is just something to help acclimate the people.
JeepThang

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11/17/2009 12:47 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
holy cow.. thats quick!



Wow.. pretty soon *everyone* will be goin to the moon..
-(/disgruntled nasa employee)
--
"Some people are born mediocre, some people achieve mediocrity, and some people have mediocrity thrust upon them." ~Joseph Heller
JeepThang
O||||O
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:47 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
(and never return... because it would be impossible to carry enough fuel for the round trip!)


and of course there is zero reason to travel to mars, this is just an excuse to spend huge $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, which will result in more spending $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for more missions to nowhere!

hell with that kind of cash one could build an army and take over the entire globe... Napoleon and Hitler had no need for spaceships.... or feed every starving human in every country!! iamwith
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:48 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
I watched the video, didn't seem to be going very fast at all
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 728812


They were probably measuring thrust from the plasma engine. This is how you would get a general idea of something's speed.
bed
Netizen Ribbonmind

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11/17/2009 12:49 PM

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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
explains "star wars" money down the drain and the billions lost from the budget. WOOT! we own the ufo's!!
"The earth is mother of us all, for she is just; but you, because you are unjust have pretended that she is your mother alone; and if you do not stop, I will not permit you to remain upon her."

[link to www.livius.org]
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:54 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
(and never return... because it would be impossible to carry enough fuel for the round trip!)
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 469144


Wrong.
A VASIMR-powered spacecraft could be launched with only enough fuel to get to its destination, such as Mars, and then pick up more hydrogen upon arrival to serve as fuel for the return trip home.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:55 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Ion engines - of which this is a variant - are interesting possibilities for long-distance propulsion.

They work by turning a gas (usually hydrogen) into plasma by heating it until it's electron leaves, which creates an electric charge in the plasma, then injecting it into a strong electrical magnetic field that repulses it like the force between two same-pole magnets, and it is then ejected out of a nozzle, creating thrust.

Not MUCH thrust, but they run for a LONG time on VERY little fuel, which is their main selling point. You don't need to lug along tons and tons of fuel on the trip.

These can only be used in space, because they do not and never will produce enough thrust to LIFT anything into orbit, that will remain the task of chemical rocket motors, but once in space they can generate a small level of push over a LONG time, slowly accelerating the craft to potentially VERY high speed, after which it could coast almost forever in the frictionless vacuum of space at that velocity until it nears it's destination, where some kind of BRAKING thrust would be needed to slow down to orbit, say, Mars for example.

Even with this technology, we are in the 'OLDEN DAYS' of space travel here, comparatively speaking it's like back when ships relied on SAILS, before steam engines and propellers were invented. They were at the mercy of the ocean currents and the wind, they could not simply go from A to B because without using the wind there was no way to propel the boat.

It's the same today in space, we are at the mercy of the gravity around moons and planets used in slingshot maneuvers to gain momentum, limited to only certain 'windows' when we can launch things depending on where they are at the moment in their orbit around the sun, and stuck with inefficient chemical thrust generation for orbital insertion and course correction.

We desperately need a means of propulsion that will be a total step UP in physics and technology just like the engine was over the sail, before we stand a chance of really accomplishing anything in space.

Sucks, don't it? I'd suggest that SOMEONE start thinking out of the box here, or we're gonna be stuck on this deteriorating mud-ball for a long, LONG time...
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:56 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
and of course there is zero reason to travel to mars, this is just an excuse to spend huge $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$, which will result in more spending $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for more missions to nowhere!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 469144


The system is 20 times cheaper than current tech.
Once we have this capability, Mars isn’t really the only place that we can go. With a megawatt-class VASIMR, basically we will have access to the entire solar system. Mars is an interesting place, but so are Europa and Ganymede and Enceladus and Titan. These are places where we might find extraterrestrial life.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 12:57 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
bump for coolness.....whats 39 days to mars in mph?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 697653


It's, er... fast. Nearest Mars ever gets to Earth is about 35 million miles. So call it a million miles a day.

It's certainly possible to do this. The six-month flight time to Mars is based on using minimal energy to do it: just burn most of the fuel all in one huge blast from Earth orbit, then coast the rest of the way, and finally fire the engines again to brake into Mars orbit. But if you've got a bigger energy budget you can go to Mars faster; an electric ion engine such as this would provide continuous thrust all the way, and while the actual force would be less the top speed it eventually achieves would be enormous. Just as long as you can keep the power coming.

Guess where the power's coming from. Yep. It's the N word.

Nothing but a nuclear reactor is going to be able to provide that kind of power for that length of time without needing to carry enormous amounts of fuel. And putting nuclear reactors in space will not be popular. Still, there's this return-to-the-Moon project for the time being; when we come to move on to Mars, engines like this will be ready to take us there, and hopefully the public might be more open to the concept of a nuclear rocket by then.
THE FIRST HORSEMAN

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11/17/2009 12:58 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
please read the article , this plasma rocket is a kilowatt version ie a scale test version , a megawatt version can make the journey in 39days ie unfeasible at this moment in time .
NOW I know what it feels like to be a horse ,Because these days I'm constantly being groomed
Donald Dewar (Father of the nation )
:saltire:
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 01:03 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
NASA have had many many differnt propulsion technoloigies that could get them into space and to the planets. For reasons unknown, but probably to do with personal interests of nazi scientist warner von braun, they chose the liquid fuel rockets like the saturn 5.


Its not like this is a first in history, a brand new way of getting into space.

Heck i saw them testing ion drives in the 1990s on discovery channel. What the hell happend to that technology?? i will tell you what, it was snapped up by the military and kept calssified.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 01:06 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
i'm sure it's been around for ages. this is just something to help acclimate the people.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 812062


It has. The Soviets and the Americans both experimented with nuclear rockets in the past. Look up 'NERVA' for the American project; it was nuclear thermal, in which a reactor would be used to heat gas which would then be thrust through a nozzle to propel the spacecraft. Von Braun wanted to use one to go to Mars, but the technology never lived up to expectations and post-TMI 'nuclear' became a bad word.

VASIMR coupled to a suitable reactor would be an effective nuclear electric engine, just the thing for exploring the outer Solar System.

But if you really want to ride the power of the atom, read about the nuclear salt-water rocket. The power is colossal, the performance available incredible. You could take it interstellar. The downside is, the moment anybody tries to build one in orbit, every other nation is going to shoot it down first chance they get. Certainly such a device is a fine spacecraft. It's also the mother of all doom cannons. Imagine pointing the back end of it towards a country and threatening to switch it on...
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 01:15 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Heck i saw them testing ion drives in the 1990s on discovery channel. What the hell happend to that technology?? i will tell you what, it was snapped up by the military and kept calssified.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 820817


That would have been Deep Space 1, launched in 1998, whose mission among the asteroids was highly successful. It proved the ion technology, and it has since been used in other missions.

ESA's Artemis, a comsat, carried an experimental ion drive intended for use in station-keeping, and when the main engines failed this was used to salvage the mission.

Japan's Hayabusa mission to the asteroids used four ion engines, giving it the ability to fly to an asteroid, survey it, land, collect a sample, take off again, and head home; it's due to arrive in June.

NASA's Dawn, another asteroid probe, is currently on its way to visit the dwarf planet Ceres. It has three ion engines of the same type Deep Space One used.

ESA recently launched an ocean survey satellite called GOCE. For best results this satellite must fly low, so it suffers from drag as it orbits in the very outermost layers of the Earth's atmosphere; the small but steady thrust of an ion engine is perfect to counteract this and keep the satellite up.
Dr. Cochcran
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11/17/2009 01:17 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
The Vulcans will give us warp drive technology when they make first contact!
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 01:20 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
The Vulcans will give us warp drive technology when they make first contact!
 Quoting: Dr. Cochcran 811072


Which as you may remember they only did after detecting the warp signature of Zephram Cochrane's first warp drive in the Phoenix...

Until then, they (or more correctly speaking their contemporary's) will wait patiently for us to either join the league of warp-capable civilizations or destroy ourselves before making that jump.
The Monk
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11/17/2009 01:37 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Ion engines - of which this is a variant - are interesting possibilities for long-distance propulsion.

They work by turning a gas (usually hydrogen) into plasma by heating it until it's electron leaves, which creates an electric charge in the plasma, then injecting it into a strong electrical magnetic field that repulses it like the force between two same-pole magnets, and it is then ejected out of a nozzle, creating thrust.

Not MUCH thrust, but they run for a LONG time on VERY little fuel, which is their main selling point. You don't need to lug along tons and tons of fuel on the trip.

These can only be used in space, because they do not and never will produce enough thrust to LIFT anything into orbit, that will remain the task of chemical rocket motors, but once in space they can generate a small level of push over a LONG time, slowly accelerating the craft to potentially VERY high speed, after which it could coast almost forever in the frictionless vacuum of space at that velocity until it nears it's destination, where some kind of BRAKING thrust would be needed to slow down to orbit, say, Mars for example.

Even with this technology, we are in the 'OLDEN DAYS' of space travel here, comparatively speaking it's like back when ships relied on SAILS, before steam engines and propellers were invented. They were at the mercy of the ocean currents and the wind, they could not simply go from A to B because without using the wind there was no way to propel the boat.

It's the same today in space, we are at the mercy of the gravity around moons and planets used in slingshot maneuvers to gain momentum, limited to only certain 'windows' when we can launch things depending on where they are at the moment in their orbit around the sun, and stuck with inefficient chemical thrust generation for orbital insertion and course correction.

We desperately need a means of propulsion that will be a total step UP in physics and technology just like the engine was over the sail, before we stand a chance of really accomplishing anything in space.

Sucks, don't it? I'd suggest that SOMEONE start thinking out of the box here, or we're gonna be stuck on this deteriorating mud-ball for a long, LONG time...
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 718557


Compared to what's out there, the Earth is paradise. It's the crown jewel of the galaxy.
Anonymous Coward
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11/17/2009 01:42 PM
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Re: PLASMA ROCKET JUST TESTED-COULD TRAVEL TO MARS IN 39 DAYS
Heh, imagine a nuke at that speed. No one would even see it coming...

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