NASA’s researchers have performed an experiment and demonstrated the possibility of fuel- less space drive which could be propelled just by the momentum transfer via the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. The thrust for the space drive will be provided by the oscillating waves in Radio Frequency (RF) Resonant Cavity. The possibility of this fuel-less space drive could change the future of space technology, where distances could be travelled much faster and solar sail will not be just a fictitious dream. This space drive is assumed to be “impossible” because this violates the law of conservation of momentum. This fuel-less drive is named as “Cannae drive”.
Cannae drive has a design based on the “EmDrive” originally proposed by the British scientist Roger Shawyer. EmDrive is believed to convert electrical energy into thrust by bouncing microwaves on the walls of the resonant cavity. The electrical energy could be obtained by solar panels. In other words, solar energy can be used to propel space drive which would be much lighter because of the reduced fuel mass.
In a conference in Cleveland, Ohio, scientists of NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas have presented a paper which describes the eight-day experiment, in which they have observed a small thrust on the torsion pendulum generated by the Radio Waves bouncing off the walls of the resonant cavity. A thrust of 30 – 50 μN was measured on the torsion pendulum which is capable of detecting a single digit μN thrust.
Two different test articles were designed by Cannae LLC of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, of which one was predicted to produce a thrust while the other wasn’t. The latter was also called the ‘null’ test article. The torsion pendulum was designed and operated by Eagleworks Laboratories at the NASA Johnson Space Center of Houston, Texas. The preparation for the experiment was done for six days followed by two days of test operations during which technical issues were discovered and resolved.
The displacements of torsion pendulum were used to measure the thrust generated. Both the test articles showed the generation of thrust which as predicted should not have been generated in the case of the null article.
The paper describes that “Test results indicate that the RF resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and therefore is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma. Future test plans include independent verification and validation at other test facilities.”
As this propulsion violates the law of Conservation of Momentum, this idea had been rejected for many years. In 2012, Chinese researchers had performed independent experiments and observed the 720 mN thrust which is practically sufficient for satellite propellers weighing half the mass of the satellite. Their results were not accepted by the scientific community but now NASA has also observed much smaller but a significant thrust.
NASA’s researchers have refused to give any theoretical explanation for this experiment. “This paper will not address the physics of the quantum vacuum plasma thruster, but instead will describe the test integration, test operations, and the results obtained from the test campaign.”
The RF fuel-less space drive will revolutionise space travel where we will be able to reach the planet Mars within a few weeks rather than months and travel to the nearest star will require just about 30 years.
The violation of the law of conservation of momentum indicates that either there is an error in the experimental data or there may be a possibility of some new phenomena. Whatever be the case, the continuous effort of the researchers shows that we are progressing towards a better future space travel.