After months of speculation and leaked documents, NASA’s long-awaited EM Drive paper has finally been peer-reviewed and published. And it shows that the ‘impossible’ propulsion system really does appear to work.
The NASA Eagleworks Laboratory team even put forward a hypothesis for how the EM Drive could produce thrust – something that seems impossible according to our current understanding of the laws of physics.
In case you’ve missed the hype, the EM Drive, or Electromagnetic Drive, is a propulsion system first proposed by British inventor Roger Shawyer back in 1999.
Instead of using heavy, inefficient rocket fuel, it bounces microwaves back and forth inside a cone-shaped metal cavity to generate thrust.
According to Shawyer’s calculations, the EM Drive could be so efficient that it could power us to Mars in just 70 days.
But, there’s a not-small problem with the system. It defies Newton’s third law, which states that everything must have an equal and opposite reaction.
According to the law, for a system to produce thrust, it has to push something out the other way. The EM Drive doesn’t do this.
And now we finally have those results.
The new peer-reviewed paper is titled “Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum“, and has been published online as an open access ‘article in advance’ in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)’s Journal of Propulsion and Power. It’ll appear in the December print edition.
The scientific community is also notoriously unconvinced about the propulsion system – just yesterday a Motherboard article on the EM Drive was deleted by the moderators of the popular subreddit r/Physics because they “consider the EM Drive to be unscientific”.
But is the first peer-reviewed research ever published on the EM Drive, which firmly takes it out of the realm of pseudoscience into a technology that’s worth taking skeptically, but seriously.