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NASA's Impossible Engine – an Electromagnetic Drive – May Work

Image: NASA's Impossible Engine – an Electromagnetic Drive – May Work
(Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 08:58 AM

NASA confirmed the potential viability of an engine once thought theoretically impossible, the EmDrive thruster, vindicating its oft-ridiculed inventor, British scientist Roger Shawyer.

"Either the results are completely wrong, or NASA has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion," commented Wired magazine.

"Until yesterday, every physicist was laughing at this engine and its inventor," Gizmodo wrote Friday.

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Shawyer has since at least 2001 claimed that the EmDrive – short for Electromagnetic Drive – can convert electric power into thrust by bouncing microwaves around in a small container, thus eliminating the need for propellant. The scientific establishment mostly rejected this assertion out-of-hand because it appeared to violate the law of conservation of momentum.

Nonetheless, a Chinese company claimed last year that it had built an EmDrive that produced roughly 72 grams of thrust. "Such a thruster could be powered by solar electricity, eliminating the need for the supply of propellant that occupies up to half the launch mass of many satellites," Wired wrote of its report at the time.

No one outside of China seemed to much believe the report, however, until July 28, when NASA published a report on its own EmDrive. Two days later, it presented that report at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, much to the astonishment of everyone who sat for it.

According to US scientist Guido Fetta and his team, "Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma."

Translation: "the drive actually produced 30 to 50 micronewtons [of thrust] — less than a thousandth of the Chinese results, but emphatically a positive result, in spite of the law of conservation of momentum."

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NASA confirmed the potential viability of an engine once thought theoretically impossible, the EmDrive thruster, vindicating its oft-ridiculed inventor, British scientist Roger Shawyer.
nasa, impossible, engine
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2014-58-05
Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 08:58 AM
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