Big news for the astronomical community, the propellantless engine known as the EmDrive seems to actually work.
A peer reviewed paper on the EmDrive was accepted into the the Journal of Propulsion and Power and can be downloaded here by anyone with an internet connection.
The paper written by Harold White and a team of six engineers from NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory shows that the EmDrive produces 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of power supplied without any propellant.
“Thrust data from forward, reverse, and null suggests that the system is consistently performing with a thrust to power ratio of 1.2 ± 0.1 millinewtons per kilowatt,” writes the team in the paper’s abstract.
The team uses the paper to detail the successful use of the EmDrive including calculations for numerous potential sources of error, to demonstrate that the drive does indeed work. “The test campaign included a null thrust test effort to identify any mundane sources of impulsive thrust; however, none were identified,”
In lamens terms, here’s what the EmDrive means for space travel; An average small spacecraft (like NASA’s dawn) travels at 60 millinewtons per kilowatt, the test EmDrive travels 1.2 ± 0.1 millinewtons per kilowatt – with zero propellant. That’s right, the difference is Zero Propellant.
After extensive theoretical testing, the team built a model of the highly controversial engine that violates Newton’s third law of dynamics; producing a reaction without the need for an action. The engine itself is a cone shaped container that generates thrust when filled with microwaves.
It’s a mystery where the propulsion actually comes from, but scientists believe it is caused by the reaction to the oscillating microwave photons in a quantum vacuum field.
Explanations for the phenomena require a rarely accepted view of quantum mechanics, that is known as the realist interpretation.
Theories behind the EmDrive are not new. They’ve been around since the dawn of quantum mechanics, and have been toyed with by the likes of the world’s greatest minds, including Einstein who believed their were some “hidden variables” inside the discipline that do not allow us to interpret the reality.
More experimentation and research is required to validate this model into action, but as of now, it’s looking quite promising for the future of high-speed space travel.