from the proof-is-in-the-pudding dept.
[Researchers] in China have announced that they've already been testing the controversial drive in low-Earth orbit, and they're looking into using the EM Drive to power their satellites as soon as possible.
Big disclaimer here - all we have to go on right now is a press conference announcement [archive.is] and an article from a government-sponsored Chinese newspaper (and the country doesn't have the best track record when it comes to trustworthy research).
[...] But what the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) team is saying also corresponds with information provided to IB Times from an anonymous source. According to their informant, China already has an EM Drive on board its version of the International Space Station, the space laboratory Tiangong-2.
It had been recently suggested that the U.S. is testing an EmDrive aboard the X-37B spaceplane:
In November 2016 the International Business Times claimed the U.S. government was testing a version of the EmDrive on the Boeing X-37B and that the Chinese government has made plans to incorporate the EmDrive on its orbital space laboratory Tiangong-2. In 2009 an EmDrive technology transfer contract with Boeing was undertaken via a State Department TAA and a UK export licence, approved by the UK MOD. The appropriate US government agencies including DARPA, USAF and NSSO were aware of the contract. However, prior to flight, the propulsion experiment aboard the X-37B was officially announced as a test of a Hall-effect thruster built by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Some are already envisioning probes that could reach far beyond the Kuiper belt (thousands of astronomical units) in around a decade. This would allow the exploration of trans-Neptunian objects such as Sedna (around 86 AU from the Sun, with an estimated aphelion of 936 AU) and the hypothetical Planet Nine (estimated to be between 200 and 1,200 AU away).
We must not allow an EmDrive gap.
Also at redOrbit, and Chinatopix, which notes that previous Chinese EmDrive tests have resulted in false positives and that the EmDrive was not publicly listed among the items brought aboard the Tiangong-2 in October.
Multiple sources have reported that a paper about EmDrive has cleared peer review and will be published in December, although there is no certainty yet about whether NASA scientists have found evidence to support thrust apparently in violation of the law of conservation of momentum (and not within experimental error):
Long thought to be nothing more than a space dream, the EmDrive, a rocket propulsion technology that requires no propellant, has cleared peer review, the International Business Times reports. The new engine, first proposed 17 years ago, relies on microwaves for its thrust, which are fired into a metal cone, causing acceleration. The latest design, which will be published in the Journal of Propulsion, was the brainchild of scientists at NASA's experimental lab, Eagleworks Laboratories.
Also at Inverse.
Meanwhile, a company formed by Cannae Inc. has announced that it will launch a similar propulsion device into space to prove that it works:
On August 17, Cannae announced plans to launch its thruster on a 6U cubesat. Each unit is a 10-centimeter cube, so a 6U satellite is the size of a small shoebox. Approximately one quarter of this will be taken up by the drive. Fetta intends the satellite to stay on station for at least six months, rather than the six weeks that would be typical for a satellite this size at a altitude of 150 miles. The longer it stays in orbit, the more the satellite will show that it must be producing thrust without propellant.
Cannae has formed a company called Theseus with industrial partners LAI International of Tempe, AZ and SpaceQuest Ltd. of Fairfax, VA to launch the satellite. No launch date has yet been announced, but 2017 seems likely. "Once demonstrated on orbit, Theseus will offer our thruster platforms to the satellite marketplace," says the optimistic conclusion on their website.
China is scheduled to launch a space station into orbit in less than an hour. According to Ars Technica:
China will take its next step toward a large space station on Thursday, when it intends to launch the Tiangong-2 laboratory into orbit. The 8.5-ton, 10.4-meter-long facility will launch from the Jiuquan launch center in the Gobi Desert, aboard a Long March 2-F rocket. The launch is set for 10:04am ET (14:04pm UTC) Thursday, and live video is available.
This space station, "Heavenly Palace 2," will be China's second after it launched the similarly sized Tiangong-1 laboratory in 2011. Following this week's launch, China plans to send two taikonauts to Tiangong-2 in four to six weeks aboard a Shenzhou-11 spacecraft. They will live there for about a month, testing out the lab's life support systems and performing scientific research. According to China's official news service, Xinhua, those experiments will involve areas of medicine, physics, and biology, as well as quantum key transmission, space atomic clock, and solar storm research.
China has plans within the next decade to send up an even larger space station. This, on top of plans to establish a moon colony, as well.
Also at Spaceflight Now.
After months of speculation and leaked documents, NASA's long-awaited EM Drive paper has finally been peer-reviewed and published [open, DOI: 10.2514/1.B36120] [DX]. And it shows that the 'impossible' propulsion system really does appear to work. The NASA Eagleworks Laboratory team even put forward a hypothesis for how the EM Drive could produce thrust – something that seems impossible according to our current understanding of the laws of physics.
In case you've missed the hype, the EM Drive, or Electromagnetic Drive, is a propulsion system first proposed by British inventor Roger Shawyer back in 1999. Instead of using heavy, inefficient rocket fuel, it bounces microwaves back and forth inside a cone-shaped metal cavity to generate thrust. According to Shawyer's calculations, the EM Drive could be so efficient that it could power us to Mars in just 70 days.
takyon: Some have previously dismissed EmDrive as a photon rocket. This is addressed in the paper along with other possible sources of error:
The eighth [error:] photon rocket force, RF leakage from test article generating a net force due to photon emission. The performance of a photon rocket is several orders of magnitude lower than the observed thrust. Further, as noted in the above discussion on RF interaction, all leaking fields are managed closely to result in a high quality RF resonance system. This is not a viable source of the observed thrust.
[...] The 1.2 mN/kW performance parameter is over two orders of magnitude higher than other forms of "zero-propellant" propulsion, such as light sails, laser propulsion, and photon rockets having thrust-to-power levels in the 3.33–6.67 μN/kW (or 0.0033–0.0067 mN/kW) range.
Previously: NASA Validates "Impossible" Space Drive's Thrust
"Reactionless" Thruster Tested Again, This Time in a Vacuum
Explanation may be on the way for the "Impossible" EmDrive
Finnish Physicist Says EmDrive Device Does Have an Exhaust
EmDrive Peer-Reviewed Paper Coming in December; Theseus Planning a Cannae Thruster Cubesat
The Guardian reports on the Tianzhou-1's, China's first automated cargo spacecraft, first mission to the station:
China's first cargo spacecraft docked successfully with the Tiangong-2 space lab on Saturday, the official Xinhua news agency reported, marking a major step towards Beijing's goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022. ...
The Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft made the automated docking process with the orbiting space lab after it had taken off on Thursday evening from the Wenchang satellite launch centre in the southern island province of Hainan....
The cargo spacecraft mission provides an "important technological basis" to build a Chinese space station, state media have said. It can reportedly carry six tonnes of goods, two tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months.
Seems like Cold War era again:
President Xi Jinping has prioritised advancing China's space programme to strengthen national security.,,,
The US Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis.
China insists it has only peaceful ambitions in space, but has tested anti-satellite missiles.
The man behind the disputed thruster technology EmDrive has published a presentation detailing the third generation of the device. Roger Shawyer envisions EmDrive 3.0 enabling personal flying vehicles and a "space elevator without cables":
[Although] the second generation of the EmDrive can theoretically produce 3 tonnes of thrust for 1 kilowatt of power, it isn't able to move very far, so it is only useful for marine applications or for diverting asteroids, like in the new CBS sci-fi TV drama Salvation.
Shawyer has long said that his aim for inventing the EmDrive was to help get satellites into space cheaply, to enable more applications and new ways for the human race to combat global warming and the energy crisis. Essentially, the EmDrive needs to be able to move and work as well as a conventional rocket, in order to be a viable solution.
To negate these shortfalls, Shawyer's firm Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR) has also been researching a third generation of the EmDrive, which solved the acceleration problem by reducing the specific thrust.
So instead of getting 3 tonnes of thrust for every kilowatt, substantially less thrust is produced – but it can be used to accelerate the device (more about this theory can be read in a paper Shawyer presented in Beijing in 2013).
Speaking of that TV show, Roger would like some credit please.
Previously: Finnish Physicist Says EmDrive Device Does Have an Exhaust
It's Official: NASA's Peer-Reviewed EmDrive Paper Has Finally Been Published
Space Race 2.0: China May Already be Testing an EmDrive in Orbit
Physicist Uses "Quantised Inertia" to Explain Both EmDrive and Galaxy Rotation
A physicist is using a theory he advanced to explain how EmDrive could work to explain how dwarf galaxies can be held together without the requirement of dark matter:
British physicist Dr Mike McCulloch, who previously used quantised inertia to explain how the controversial electromagnetic space propulsion technology EmDrive works, says that he has new evidence showing his theory can also explain galaxy rotation, which is one of physics' biggest mysteries. McCulloch, a lecturer in geomatics at Plymouth University's school of marine science and engineering, says he now has even more evidence that his "new physics theory" about quantised inertia works, and that it makes it possible to explain why galaxies are not ripped apart without using theory of dark matter.
[...] There are 20 dwarf galaxies in existence from Segue-1 (the smallest) to Canes Venatici-1 (the largest), and dark matter is only meant to work by spreading out across a wide distance, but it is still used to explain dwarf galaxies, even though this requires dark matter to be concentrated within these systems, which is implausible. Instead, McCulloch asserts that quantised inertia can be used to explain how galaxies rotate without using dark matter, and he has written a paper that has been accepted by the bi-monthly peer reviewed journal Astrophysics and Space Science.
Reprint of the IBT link here.
From the abstract of Low-acceleration dwarf galaxies as tests of quantised inertia (DOI not yet published):
Dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way appear to be gravitationally bound, but their stars' orbital motion seems too fast to allow this given their visible mass. This is akin to the larger-scale galaxy rotation problem. In this paper, a modification of inertia called quantised inertia or MiHsC (Modied inertia due to a Hubble-scale Casimir effect) which correctly predicts larger galaxy rotations without dark matter is tested on eleven dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, for which mass and velocity data are available. Quantised inertia slightly outperforms MoND (Modied Newtonian Dynamics) in predicting the velocity dispersion of these systems, and has the fundamental advantage over MoND that it does not need an adjustable parameter.
Previously: Study Casts Doubt on Cosmic Acceleration and Dark Energy
Dark Matter Beats its Latest Challenge
Emergent Gravity and the Dark Universe
Space Race 2.0: China May Already be Testing an EmDrive in Orbit
Milky Way is Not Only Being Pulled—It's Also "Pushed" by a Void