By Liu Kun September 13, 2017 (rt.com)
• Chinese scientists have developed a prototype electromagnetic thruster, or “EmDrive”, as an alternative propulsion system to a fuel-based propellant.
• The EmDrive propulsion system could allow travel to Mars in weeks.
• British scientist Roger Shawyer first proposed the EmDrive concept in 1999.
• The Chinese began their work on a practical EmDrive system in 2009.
• NASA has been working to develop its own EmDrive propulsion system since 2014.
A mysterious propulsion system that ‘defies physics’ may be close to reality in China, where scientists say they have finished work on the EmDrive. Much sought after by space agencies, the system could potentially allow for travel to Mars in weeks.
Scientists in China claim to have developed a working prototype of the EmDrive, according to state TV, with a test due to take place in space in the near future. Developed by scientist Dr Chen Yue at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), it would put China’s space agency ahead of NASA.
The EmDrive is key to the future of space exploration, eliminating the need for a conventional propellant to produce thrust. “For every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction,” Newton’s Third Law states, emphasizing the need for propellant in all modes of travel.
China claims to have defied that law, producing an EmDrive that produces thrust by bouncing microwaves around in a closed container with no propellant required. In theory, this is the equivalent of “trying to pull yourself up by your shoelaces and hoping you’ll levitate,” Steven Thomson of the University of St Andrews said in 2015.
A leaked paper from NASA last year showed the drive was possible and that the space agency was busy at work on their own version. Their theorized model could generate approximately 1.2 millinewtons of thrust per kilowatt were the power input to be scaled up.
In comparison, one of the most powerful thrusters in development and powered by ejecting plasma, the Hall thruster, generates about 60 millinewtons of thrust per kilowatt, reported Next Big Future.
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In a previous article by Drew Prindle on August 1, 2014 (digitaltrends.com) entitled “NASA Confirms ‘Impossible’ Thruster Actually Works”, he reported that British scientist Roger Shawyer first developed the EmDrive, and Chinese and American NASA scientists later confirmed it:
When Roger Shawyer first unveiled his EmDrive thruster back around 2003, the scientific community laughed at him. They said it was impossible, that it was based on a flawed concept, and couldn’t work because it goes against the laws of conservation of momentum. But somehow, despite all of the reasons it shouldn’t work, it does.
Scientists at NASA just confirmed it.
Shawyer’s engine provides thrust by “bouncing microwaves around in a closed chamber.” That’s it. There’s no need for a propellant of any kind like rocket fuel. When filled with resonating microwaves, the conical chamber of the thruster experiences a net thrust toward the wide end. These microwaves can be generated using electricity, which can be provided by solar energy. In theory, this means that the thruster can work forever, or at least until its hardware fails.
Initially, the idea was met with criticism because it flies in the face of Newtonian physics, which dictate that no closed system can have this kind of net thrust. Shawyer, however, says that net thrust occurs because the microwaves have a group velocity that’s greater in one direction when Einstein’s relativity comes into play. But can it really?
Apparently, yes. The idea was first confirmed by a group of Chinese scientists back in 2009. They built their own version of Shawyer’s thruster and were able to produce 720 milinewtons of force — but even then, nobody really believed it.
Now, American scientists at NASA have given the EmDrive a go, and once again confirmed that it actually works. The test results were presented on July 30 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, and astonishingly enough, they are positive. The team behind the drive still doesn’t know why it works, just that it does.
“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,” the report reads.
Therefore, we’ve still got a long road ahead of us before we’ve got energy-harvesting, self-propelled intergalactic spacecraft, but these studies (assuming they’re not flawed) suggest we’ve made a major breakthrough in space propulsion systems. With further refinement, microwave thrusters could drastically cut the cost of satellites and space stations, and potentially even make it possible to travel to distant planets, like Mars, in weeks rather than months or years.
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