In November the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published a paper entitled Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuumin which the authors claimed to have discovered a propulsion system that defies the laws of physics as we have understood them for the past 400 years. Newton’s third law of motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This is a violation of Newton’s third law of motion, which says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Yet in testing the idea of an EM Drive (or Electromagnetic Drive) the scientists witnessed a system that seems to produce thrust without pushing anything else back. There was no mass or particles of any kind expelled during the process. The EM Drive doesn’t use rocket fuel, but rather sends microwaves back and forth within a conical metal cavity in order to produce thrust. In doing so it operates with amazing efficiency and theory suggests it could send a rocket to Mars in only 10 weeks rather than the 4 to 5 months or to the moon in 6 hours using existing rocket fuels (ie the system would be traveling about 66 km/second).

The original idea for the EM Drive came from British inventor Roger Shawyer in 1999 and developed in a 2006 paper “A Theory of Microwave Propulsion for Spacecraft”. Shawyer envision a propulsion system for spacecraft that involved the direct conversion of direct current electricity to thrust without the need for a propellant. Here is a YouTube video in which Shawyer explains the operations of the EM Drive.

A few weeks after the NASA announcement we hear the Chinese may already be using this technology.  There were reports this week that scientists with the China Academy of Space Technology claim NASA’s results ‘re-confirm’ what they had already achieved, and China now has plans to implement it in satellites ‘as quickly as possible.’ China claims it has created a working prototype of the EM Drive and is testing it in orbit in low-Earth orbit aboard the Tiangong-2 space laboratory.  We are told the Chinese government has been funding research into the technology since 2010 and it is believed they will soon be launching a space craft using the EM Drive as its power source.

 

 

 

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