Nasa conducts MORE secret tests of its ‘impossible engine’: Study reveals fuel-free thrusters do work, but no one knows why
A group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum – a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams. Thrust measurements of the EM Drive defy classical physics’ expectations that such a closed (microwave) cavity should be unusable for space propulsion because of the law of conservation of momentum.
WHAT IS AN EM DRIVE?
The concept of an EmDrive engine is relatively simple.
It provides thrust to a spacecraft by bouncing microwaves around in a closed container.
Solar energy provides the electricity to power the microwaves, which means that no propellant is needed.
The implications for this could be huge. For instance, current satellites could be half the size they are today without the need to carry fuel.
Humans could also travel further into space, generating their own propulsion on the way.
But when the concept was first proposed it was considered implausible because it went against the laws of physics.
Its allegedly fuel-free nature also means that the drive may directly contradict the law of conservation of momentum.
It suggest it would produce a forward-facing force without an equal and opposite force acting in the other direction.
Last summer, NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – made waves throughout the scientific and technical communities when the group presented their test results on July 28-30, 2014, at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
Those results related to experimental testing of an EM Drive – a concept that originated around 2001 when a small UK company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR), under Roger J. Shawyer, started a Research and Development (R&D) program.
The concept of an EM Drive as put forth by SPR was that electromagnetic microwave cavities might provide for the direct conversion of electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant.
This lack of expulsion of propellant from the drive was met with initial skepticism within the scientific community because this lack of propellant expulsion would leave nothing to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum if it were able to accelerate.
However, in 2010, Prof. Juan Yang in China began publishing about her research into EM Drive technology, culminating in her 2012 paper reporting higher input power (2.5kW) and tested thrust (720mN) levels of an EM Drive.
In 2014, Prof. Yang’s papers reported extensive tests involving internal temperature measurements with embedded thermocouples.
It was reported (in SPR Ltd.’s website) that if the Chinese EM Drive were to be installed in the International Space Station (ISS) and work as reported, it could provide the necessary delta-V (change in velocity needed to perform an on-orbit maneuver) to compensate for the Station’s orbital decay and thus eliminate the requirement of re-boosts from visiting vehicles. Despite these reports, Prof. Yang offered no scientifically-accepted explanation as to how the EM Drive can produce propulsion in space.
Dr. White proposed that the EM Drive’s thrust was due to the Quantum Vacuum (the quantum state with the lowest possible energy) behaving like propellant ions behave in a MagnetoHydroDynamics drive (a method electrifying propellant and then directing it with magnetic fields to push a spacecraft in the opposite direction) for spacecraft propulsion.
In Dr. White’s model, the propellant ions of the MagnetoHydroDynamics drive are replaced as the fuel source by the virtual particles of the Quantum Vacuum, eliminating the need to carry propellant.
This model was also met with criticism in the scientific community because the Quantum Vacuum cannot be ionized and is understood to be “frame-less” – meaning you cannot “push” against it, as required for momentum.
The tests reported by Dr. White’s team in July 2014 were not conducted in a vacuum, and none of the tests reported by Prof. Yang in China or Mr. Shawyer in the UK were conducted in a vacuum either.
The scientific community met these NASA tests with skepticism and a number of physicists proposed that the measured thrust force in the US, UK, and China tests was more likely due to (external to the EM Drive cavity) natural thermal convection currents arising from microwave heating (internal to the EM Drive cavity).
However, Paul March, an engineer at NASA Eagleworks, recently reported in NASASpaceFlight.com’s forum (on a thread now over 500,000 views) that NASA has successfully tested their EM Drive in a hard vacuum – the first time any organization has reported such a successful test.
To this end, NASA Eagleworks has now nullified the prevailing hypothesis that thrust measurements were due to thermal convection.
A community of enthusiasts, engineers, and scientists on several continents joined forces on the NASASpaceflight.com EM Drive forumto thoroughly examine the experiments and discuss theories of operation of the EM Drive.
The quality of forum discussions attracted the attention of EagleWorks team member Paul March at NASA, who has shared testing and background information with the group in order to fill in information gaps and further the dialogue.
This synergy between NASASpaceflight.com contributors and NASA has resulted in several contributions to the body of knowledge about the EM Drive.
The NASASpaceflight.com group has given consideration to whether the experimental measurements of thrust force were the result of an artifact. Despite considerable effort within the NASASpaceflight.com forum to dismiss the reported thrust as an artifact, the EM Drive results have yet to be falsified.
After consistent reports of thrust measurements from EM Drive experiments in the US, UK, and China – at thrust levels several thousand times in excess of a photon rocket, and now under hard vacuum conditions – the question of where the thrust is coming from deserves serious inquiry.