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
The only problem with that is that the ISS is a very large system, requiring a comparatively large amount of thrust, and only for station keeping. It's basically a good idea though: if they can build a satellite consisting of basically just the thruster, solar panels, and a communications/control/monitoring system, then the same amount of thrust will generate radically more obvious results - and also allow for radically more precise measurements of the effect.
I would think a good experiment would be to have a smallish solar-powered EM-drive placed in an orbit outside the heavily populated LEO "shell" (to avoid potential collisions), and have it attempt to spiral outwards.
If successful it would:1) Prove that the thing works beyond any shadow of a doubt. We're not talking about the general public here - even a small satellite impossibly gaining altitude would be as attention-grabbing as an air-raid siren to every physicist and engineer on the planet.2) Allow us to possibly detect if the thrust varies with (or without) a predictable pattern. At present we know essentially nothing about this phenomena - if there are any variations in its thrust they could provide clues to the underlying physics. As it climbed we'd get variations in solar wind, magnetic field, spacetime distortion... lots of relationships that might be exposed.3) provide ever-more precise data as it climbs out of the chaotic drag of the nebulous outer atmosphere, without requiring a more expensive launch to higher orbit for an untested system.
Long duration thrust is just as good as a large amount of thrust.
Our problem is doing either efficiently.If all we have to do is hoist some more solar panels and one or two of these engines, it would be a cheap one time fix.
Just in time to hand it all over the Russians.