VASIMR is an electromagnetic thruster for spacecraft propulsion. It uses radio waves to ionize and heat a propellant, and magnetic fields to accelerate the resulting plasma to generate thrust. It is one of several types of spacecraft electric propulsion systems.

Plasma formation
The plasma is first generated by injecting a neutral gas (argon, xenon, etc.) and ionizing it with Radiofrequency (RF) waves.
Plasma heating
The plasma is then heated to millions of degrees using a technique known as Ion Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ICRH) — basically imagine a person pushing a kid on a swing. If you push him at the right frequency, AKA resonance, he’ll go increasingly higher on the next swing. Same thing for the plasma, if you inject energy to the ions at the right time, the ions will heat up rapidly.
Directional energy conversion
The ions are moving very quickly, but most of that energy in the form of rotation around magnetic fields, a process called gyration. To produce thrust, the ions need to be directed straight out the back of the rocket. VASIMR accomplishes this by using a magnetic nozzle to convert the rotational energy to directed kinetic energy.
Plasma Detachment
The plasma then has to “leave” the rocket in order for momentum to be transferred. There are several mechanisms explaining how it happens, but that’s still an active area of research.

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