A milestone that many experts thought was impossible has been reached. New developments in space propulsion technology have been made.
Roger Shawyer is a British certified chartered electrical engineer who spent 40 years working in the space and defense industry on UK government defense contracts. Shawyer’s work in developing the EmDrive with his own company Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd has seen him take on the additional mantle of scientist, though his experiments and explanations of the results continue to be vigorously contested by many in the science community.
In 2001, Shawyer designed the thruster which was initially intended to be for space travel. It’s called an Electromagnetic Drive (or “EmDrive” for short) and it creates an anisotropic electromagnetic field in the microwave cavity, relying on its directional field to induce movement. The microwave cavity is an asymmetric container with one end much larger than the other. In other words, EmDrive is a space engine propelled entirely by electromagnetic radiation confined in microwave cavity.
In the international scientific community, it has been discussed among many academics that it’s not remotely possible for the EmDrive to work. They explained that this is because according to the law of conservation of momentum, a thruster gains momentum in one direction only when a propellant is expelled in the opposite direction.
Since the EmDrive is a closed system with no propellant, it violates everyone’s understanding of physics.
Recently, however, Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), announced that China has successfully tested EmDrive technology in its laboratories. More importantly, Dr. Yue also announced that a proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit. According to the IB Times, this test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station.
The EmDrive is what is called an RF resonant cavity thruster, and is one of several hypothetical machines. These designs work by having a magnetron push microwaves into a truncated cone that is closed, then push against the short end of the cone, and propel the craft forward.
There are many headlines declaring the space tech to be the “key to interstellar travel.” In addition, it would drastically reduce space travel time. With this, the EmDrive continues to be a puzzling propulsion device yet, still has greater chances than ever when China had claimed it has made a breakthrough in the said space technology.
According to Blasting News, if EmDrive technology is confirmed to work, it will change the art and science of space travel forever. Spacecraft will no longer have to carry reserve fuel to maneuver. All they will need is a power source, such as solar arrays or a nuclear reactor, and the engine will just keep on going until its mission is complete.