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Another proposal is a technology called the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (or VASIMR). This is an electromagnetic thruster which uses radio waves to ionize and heat a propellant. This creates an ionized gas called plasma which can be magnetically thrust out the back of the spacecraft at high velocities. Former astronaut Franklin Chang-Diaz is pioneering the development of this technology, and a prototype is expected to be installed on the International Space Station to help it maintain its altitude above Earth. In a mission to Mars, a VASIMR rocket could reduce the travel time down to 5 months.