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posted by takyon on Friday May 01 2015, @06:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the newtons-per-kilowatt dept.

An article at NasaSpaceFlight.com is claiming that the superficially reactionless EmDrive has again been tested at NASA Eagleworks, this time in hard vacuum, and the anomalous thrust is still being detected:

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.

With the popular explanations of thermal convection or atmospheric ionization being ruled out by operation in vacuum, and thrust thousands of times greater than expected from a photon rocket, is it time to start taking the EM Drive seriously as a fundamentally new form of propulsion, and possibly a door to new physics?

Roger Shawyer, the inventor of the EmDrive, claims that the device's efficiency will scale even further with greater levels of power, potentially enabling fast interstellar travel powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator or nuclear fission.

Previously: NASA Validates "Impossible" Space Drive's Thrust

 
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01 2015, @08:01PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01 2015, @08:01PM (#177590)

    > Only one way to really know for sure, build one big enough to keep the ISS boosted, install it and let it run for a year

    What makes you think that is even a remotely reasonable way to "know for sure?" We should build a full-scale system and deploy it in one of the most conspicuous and expensive possible applications and just cross our fingers it won't fail in a spectacular way?

    How about all the people who aren't crazy pants take it one step at a time in the lab for a while and let the first deployed system be an unmanned satellite that only does a couple of weeks of testing?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jmorris on Friday May 01 2015, @08:11PM

    by jmorris (4844) on Friday May 01 2015, @08:11PM (#177594)

    If you expect people to accept a drive that operates on unknown principles it needs to be demonstrated in a splashy way. Apparently it just sits on a bench and quietly draws electricity and generates a very small thrust so it shouldn't be dangerous.

    Flying it on the ISS sounds a lot simpler than building an entire space vehicle to find out if it generates thrust in low orbit. Regular missions bring cargo to it, it has plenty of electrical generation capacity, and so on. And if it works it is an instant improvement to the station.

    • (Score: 1) by Bogsnoticus on Saturday May 02 2015, @02:38PM

      by Bogsnoticus (3982) on Saturday May 02 2015, @02:38PM (#177872)

      "If you expect people to accept a drive that operates on unknown principles it needs to be demonstrated in a splashy way."

      Given how 95% of the population accept mobile phones, computers, the internal combustion engine, electricity generation, televisions, and all sorts of modern appliances with absolutely no understanding on how they work, why should one more device whose operation is beyond their ken be hard for them to accept?

      Most will be happy if;
      - It works
      - Doesn't kill them immediately, or further down the track.
      - Doesn't shrink their testicles.
      - Doesn't produce the "brown note" and make them crap themselves when it is switched on.

      The curious 5% can entertain ourselves by producing theories, conspiracies and just generally pondering the math behind it until a suitable answer is discovered.

      --
      Genius by birth. Evil by choice.
  • (Score: 3, Touché) by soylentsandor on Friday May 01 2015, @08:41PM

    by soylentsandor (309) on Friday May 01 2015, @08:41PM (#177606)

    How about all the people who aren't crazy pants take it one step at a time in the lab for a while and let the first deployed system be an unmanned satellite that only does a couple of weeks of testing?

    That would be the sensible and responsible thing to do.

    But come on, where's the fun in that?

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday May 02 2015, @03:26AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 02 2015, @03:26AM (#177749) Journal

      Besides, if you want a visit from the Vulkans, we'v got to strap this thing to a ship named Phoenix, and go for it. 2063 is just around the corner guys.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by gnuman on Friday May 01 2015, @09:11PM

    by gnuman (5013) on Friday May 01 2015, @09:11PM (#177616)

    What makes you think that is even a remotely reasonable way to "know for sure?"

    ISS was built for these sort of things.

    1. It has lots of power, check
    2. It is built for experiments, check
    3. It is maned, and so people can adjust it and do various experiments on it while in orbit, check.

    Clearly, first they will test it on Earth to try to figure out how it works. But this drive needs to be tested in space too.

    Anyway, these are very very very exciting news. When no one can readily explain *why* this works or *how*, that means there could be exciting physics here.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @12:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 02 2015, @12:58AM (#177705)

      let the first deployed system be an unmanned satellite that only does a couple of weeks of testing?

      But this drive needs to be tested in space too.

      Thank you for demonstrating which side of the argument is based on paying attention.