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NASA’s Physics-Defying EM Drive To Be Tested In Space

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

NASA’s EM Drive will be tested in space sometime in the next six months, according to reports published Tuesday by ScienceAlert.

An EM Drive will be launched into space aboard a small satellite. The drive will be launched into a decaying orbit, which it can only maintain if it functions properly. The EM Drive is extremely contentious among scientists, since it allegedly uses exotic physics to violate Newton’s Third Law and the law of conservation of momentum.

A NASA scientist confirmed online late last month that the Em Drive “warp drive” has passed peer-review; NASA itself has not yet confirmed the test results. A Finnish team recently published a peer-reviewed paper proposing that an EM Drive could work by generating unseen exhaust which would still carry momentum.

“People all around the world have been measuring thrust. You’ve got guys building them in their garages and very large organisations building cavities too,” Roger Shawyer, the British scientist who first proposed the concept of Em Drive in 1999, told International Business Times late last month. “They’re all generating thrust, there’s no great mystery. People think it’s black magic or something, but it’s not. Any physicist worth his salt should understand how it works, or if they don’t, they should change their profession.”

Shawyer claims that the drive generates thrust through radiation pressure. The Em Drive first gained prominence after NASA’s secretive Eagleworks lab published a non peer-reviewed technical report attesting it generated a small amount of thrust by an unknown mechanism. All three attempts to replicate the drive’s thrust results were successful, but the amounts of thrust generated were relatively low and could have been the result of experimental error.

If successful, the device could make it much cheaper to move satellites and spacecraft around in space, as well as have numerous terrestrial applications. The development of Em Drive was funded by the British government and licences by aerospace giant Boeing. Testing of the Em Drive has been plagued by experimental design issues and repeated delays.

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