Drive Wire for November 9, 2016: NASA Report Indicates Emdrive Actually Works

But there is a lot of explaining to do.

When scientist Roger Shawyer announced in 2006 that he’d conceived a new form of spacecraft propulsion called the Emdrive that didn’t require conventional fuel, it sounded too good to be true. But as it happens, a newly leaked and yet-to-be-peer reviewed NASA report seems to indicate that the Emdrive does in fact work as advertised.

The Emdrive bounces microwave radiation around inside a cone-shaped piece of metal, known as the resonant cavity. Those photons propel the engine and the attached spacecraft forward as they exit the wide end of the Emdrive.

This appears to violate one of the fundamental laws of physics: Newton’s third law of motion—which states that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction and therefore it shouldn’t work. Yet, it reportedly does, although in small doses. How small? about one ninehundredth of the energy it would take to make an apple hover here on planet earth.

By proving the basic principle is sound, the test seems to demonstrate that a scaled-up version of the Emdrive could be used for propelling spacecraft across the interplanetary vacuum without the cumbersome demands of hauling around massive amounts of fuel—a problem that poses one of the largest logistical issues for engineers planning missions to mars. All you would need is solar power and the Emdrive.

Indeed, the Emdrive could possibly allow humans to reach mars in as little as 70 days—far faster than conventional rockets. In which case, Elon Musk’s pie-in-the-sky dreams of rapid round-trips to mars just might work out after all.