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NASA’s impossible engine passes peer review

NASA’s impossible engine passes peer review

Update 9/2: The AIAA has confirmed that the paper was accepted, and it will be published in December 2016. 

“The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Journal of Propulsion and Power has accepted for publication a paper in the area of electromagnetic propulsion. However, it is AIAA’s policy not to discuss the details of peer reviewed papers before/until they are published. We currently expect the paper in question to be published in December 2016.”

Original Story 9/1: For the last year or so, there have been a lot of people thrilled by the prospect of NASA’s incredible EM Drive – almost as many as have doubted that it could possibly work, given that it seems to break the laws of physics. It now looks like the engine is about to take a huge step forward though, as an as yet unconfirmed report claims that the engine has passed peer review and the findings of that review will soon be published.

The reports began when an independent researcher and scientist named Dr. Jose Rodal posted on NASA’s Spaceflight forums. In the forums he confirmed that the results of the peer review would be published in a paper titled “Measurement of Impulse Thrust from a Closed Radio Frequency Cavity in Vacuum,” and it will be authored by Harold White, Paul March, Lawrence, Vera, Sylvester, Brady, and Bailey.

The post has since been deleted, but the article is said to be coming to the American Institue of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Journal of Propulsion and Power soon.

Developed by NASA’s experimental Eagleworks lab, the EM Drive has been wrapped in controversy since it was first announced. The drive is said to convert electromagnetic energy into thrust by colliding microwaves inside of a closed chamber. The results are an engine that uses no propellant, travels faster than any conventional engine by a huge margin, and seems to break Newton’s Third Law stating that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Eagleworks claimed that it has managed to successfully test the engine in the lab, but so far no independent groups have officially confirmed it. The engine was submitted for peer review back in March, and if the report is to be believed, it passed all tests.

Although still theoretical, the EM Drive would be a huge step forward for space travel over a traditional photon rocket. A trip to the moon would take just four hours, while it would take us 70 days to reach Mars (as opposed to the six to eight months it now takes). To put it in better perspective, it took nine years for New Horizon to reach Pluto, but with the EM Drive, it would take just 18 months.

The drive was first proposed in 1999 by a scientist named Roger Shawyer. Along with revolutionizing space travel, the benefits of the technology used to power the EM Drive could change life on Earth. It would theoretically create cheap, clean energy with no waste, and no fuel.

“We will go to Mars, but the most important thing is what [the EM Drive] will do for the rest of the world. It will be solar power stations, city-to-city long-haul flights using hydrogen. It’s green and convenient and will change our world in the next few decades,” he said last year. “We’ve got solutions to the global energy crisis, climate change and green technology all thrown into one.”

Shawyer is currently working on the second-generation EM Drive with an unnamed UK aerospace firm. Assuming the drive works as advertised, the next step will be to expand the thrust output.

“Once you reach the levels of thrust we anticipate we will reach, you can apply it anywhere,” he said. “Essentially, anything that currently flies or drives or floats can use EmDrive technology.”

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