A team of researchers at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) of NASA has finally completed successful testing of an EM (electromagnetic) propulsion drive in the vacuum. This is a major breakthrough for a long international effort put in by multiple competing teams of scientists.
The EM Drive’s thrust measurement defy the expectations of classical physics, which suggest that such closed cavities must not be usable for space propulsion; physics forces us to expect so based on the law of conservation of momentum.
Last summer, we saw a research team called NASA Eagleworks creating waves in the tech and scientific communities after presenting the results of their study. The results of their research were presented at the 50th edition of the Joint Propulsion Conference held in July, 2014.
For those who don’t know: NASA Eagleworks is an advanced propulsion study group working under the leadership of Dr. Harold White; the group operates at NASA’s NSC.
The results showcased by the scientists during the event of July, 2014 had direct links with experimental testing of EM Drive. The concept of EM propulsion drive first surfaced way back in 2001 when Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd., a small company in the United Kingdom run by Roger Shawyer, initiated an R&D (Research & Development) program.
The concept put forward by the UK firm suggested that an electromagnetic microwave cavity might enable direct conversion of electrical energy into thrust without expelling any propellant.
The lack of propellant expulsion forced the scientific community to showcase an initial skepticism about the concept. This is because, without any propellant expulsion, there will be nothing for balancing the altering momentum of the spacecraft.
Dr. White, on the other hand, said that the thrust of the EM Drive was produced due to Quantum Vacuum, which behaves exactly in the same manner as the propellant ions behave within the MagnetoHydroDynamics drive used for propelling spacecrafts.
So, here’s the main difference between NASA Eagleworks’ model and the conventional model: in the model showcased by Dr. White and his team, the MagnetoHydroDynamics drive’s propellant ions have been replaced by virtual particles of Quantum Vacuum. This automatically eliminates the drive’s need of carrying propellant of any kind.