EmDrive: NASA's New Starship Engine Breaks The Laws Of Physics

Dustin Wicksell

An experimental engine that is gaining acceptance among NASA scientists may power a future generation of starships, and it only has to break the known laws of physics to do so.

The EmDrive is a new type of engine that may represent a huge advancement for NASA's space program. The engine doesn't require propellant, according to Mashable, which is one of the most important parts of current space-travel systems. Rather, the EmDrive utilizes electricity to generate microwaves, which are then used to provide thrust in the vacuum of space.

— SpaceGhost (@peteox13) August 2, 2014

While the EmDrive is incredibly efficient and could represent a complete "game-changer" in manned spaceflight, the engine violates the Newtonian laws of physics, specifically the ones concerning conservation of momentum. As IFLScience points out, critics have said that any thrust generated by NASA's prototype engine must actually be coming from another source.

Chinese scientists have independently proven the EmDrive theory, constructing a similar engine last year and demonstrating that it could generate 720 mN of thrust. Although the work failed to convince many scientists, NASA evaluated their own version of the EmDrive engine, the Cannae drive (designed by Guido Fetta), more recently. Testing in a sealed vacuum chamber, NASA scientists were able to determine that the Cannae engine indeed generated thrust that could not be attributed to any other source.

— Dismukes (@Dismukes) August 1, 2014

The NASA scientists who conducted the engine test contend that the results may go beyond known scientific phenomena:

"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."

While Fetta's engine is similar to one developed by British scientist Roger Shawyer, it is hardly the only potential starship engine the space agency is working on. As The Inquisitr previously reported, a team of NASA scientists are also actively at work on a faster-than-light "warp drive" system, based on the work of theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre.

— Mashable (@mashable) August 2, 2014

More tests are planned on the EmDrive engine, which may provide sustainable thrust on deep space missions, opening up whole new worlds to NASA.

[Image via Mashable]