Presenter Martin Tajmar is a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology, interested in space propulsion systems and breakthrough propulsion physics.
A Revolutionary Development for Space Travel
The EM Drive (Electro Magnetic Drive) uses electromagnetic microwave cavities to directly convert electrical energy to thrust without the need to expel any propellant. First proposed by Satellite Propulsion Research, a research company based in the UK founded by aerospace engineer Roger Shawyer, the EM Drive concept was predictably scorned by much of the mainstream research community for allegedly violating the laws of physics, including the conservation of momentum.
However, NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold G. “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – investigated the EM Driveand presented encouraging test results in 2014 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference.
White proposes that the EM Drive’s thrust is due to virtual particles in the quantum vacuum that behave like propellant ions in magneto-hydrodynamical propulsion systems, extracting “fuel” from the very fabric of space-time and eliminating the need to carry propellant. While a number of scientists criticize White’s theoretical model, others feel that he is at least pointing to the right direction. The NASASpaceFlight website and forums have emerged as unofficial news source and discussion space for all things related to the EM Drive and related breakthrough space propulsion proposals such as the Cannae Drive.
Shawyer has often been dismissed by the research establishment for not having peer-reviewed scientific publications, but White and Tajmar have impeccable credentials that put them beyond cheap dismissal and scorn. Physics is an experimental science, and the fact that the EM Drive works is confirmed in the lab. “This is the first time that someone with a well-equipped lab and a strong background in tracking experimental error has been involved, rather than engineers who may be unconsciously influenced by a desire to see it work,” notes Wired referring to Tajmar’s work.
Hacked has obtained a copy of Tajmar’s Propulsion and Energy Forum paper, co-authored by G. Fiedler.
“Our measurements reveal thrusts as expected from previous claims after carefully studying thermal and electromagnetic interferences,” note the researchers. “If true, this could certainly revolutionize space travel.”
The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear.
“Additional tests need to be carried out to study the magnetic interaction of the power feeding lines used for the liquid metal contacts,” conclude the researchers. “Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EMDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.”
Contrary to sensationalist reports published by the sensationalist press, the EM Drive is not a “warp drive” for faster than light travel. It could, however, according to current experimental evidence, be a revolutionary development for faster and cheaper space transportation.
Wired notes that an EmDrive could get to Pluto in less than 18 months and mentions more ambitious ideas including a manned trip to the moons of Saturn with a three-year mission time. “Some damage to our theories of physics is an acceptable payoff if we get a working space drive,” concludes the Wiredarticle.
Images from M. Tajmar, G. Fiedler, and Wikimedia Commons.