NASA’s Johnson Space Center successfully tests EM Propulsion Drive in Vacuum

NASA’s Johnson Space Center successfully tests EM Propulsion Drive in Vacuum

An electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive has been successfully tested by a group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in a vacuum. The work has brought a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams.

NASA Eagleworks – an advanced propulsion research group led by Dr. Harold “Sonny” White at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) – caused a stir in the scientific community last summer by presenting their results on July 28-30, 2014, at the 50th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

The results were derived for experimental testing of an EM Drive. The concept of EM Drive came into picture in 2001 when a Research and Development (R&D) program was started by a small UK company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR), under Roger J. Shawyer.

SPR said electromagnetic microwave cavities provide a way for directly converting electrical energy to thrust without relying on the need to expel any propellant.

There was initial skepticism within the scientific community because of lack of expulsion of propellant from the drive. The skepticism was making enough sense as this lack of propellant expulsion did not provide anything to balance the change in the spacecraft’s momentum at the time of acceleration.

However, Prof. Yang’s papers reported in 2014 that the Chinese EM Drive could be installed in the International Space Station (ISS) and could provide the necessary delta-V (change in velocity needed to perform an on-orbit maneuver) to compensate the Station’s orbital decay. Thus, re-boosts are not required from visiting vehicles. However, Prof. Yang failed to provide any explanation as to how the EM Drive can lead to production of propulsion in space.

However, Paul March, an engineer at NASA Eagleworks, recently reported that NASA has achieved a feat of testing their EM drive in a hard vacuum.

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