The inventor of the impossible EmDrive, Roger Shawyer, received a new patent for the next generation of his controversial engine and the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defense are both interested in obtaining the technology.
If the EmDrive works, which is under some debate, it would allow a military satellite to get close to its target without being detected, it would also revolutionize space travel, Shawyer told the International Business Times.
"Yes, the UK MoD and the US DoD are interested in EmDrive. It would clearly be useful for any intelligence-gathering platform. It provides good maneuverability and stealth orbits to be maintained."The patent for the controversial EmDrive was issued by the U.K.'s Intellectual Property Office; it describes an engine that uses a single flat superconducting plate on one side and a uniquely shaped non-superconducting plate on the other, Shawyer told Science Alert.
"The patent process is a very significant process, it's not like an academic peer review where everyone hides behind an anonymous review, it's all out in the open."The new design makes the EmDrive cheaper and easier to produce, which makes mass production of the controversial engine much more realistic, Shawyer told the International Business Times.
"This is pretty significant because it enables you to easily manufacture these things, and we want to produce thousands of them. The patent makes the construction of a viable superconducting thruster easier, and it will produce a lot of thrust."The controversial EmDrive provides thrust without exhaust and therefore doesn't need fuel, something many mainstream scientists argue is impossible because it violates a basic law of physics.
Newton's Third Law says there's an equal and opposite reaction for every action, meaning that for a rocket to go forward, exhaust must go backward. The EmDrive claims to disobey this law and creates thrust by bouncing microwave photons around a cone-shaped cavity causing the narrow end to move in the opposite direction.
Shawyer invented the impossible engine in 1999 while he was working for the U.K. government; he was widely ridiculed and accused of faking his research, but Eagleworks, an experimental NASA lab continued to research the technology, he told the International Business Times.
"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."Earlier this year, researchers at the lab submitted a peer-reviewed paper to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for publication detailing their research on EmDrive technology.
The AIAA confirmed the publication date for December, 2016, but refused to release any details about the technology. Since the announcement of publication in August, the internet has been on fire with speculation over whether the EmDrive actually works or not.
To simplify matters, and solve the question of whether the impossible drive actually works, Cannae CEO Guido Feta and German engineer Paul Kocyla are both launching cubesats into orbit.
The cubesats are scheduled to launch into orbit in 2018 aboard NASA's first test of the Space Launch System along with several other satellites. When the EmDrive finally reaches space we'll know for sure whether the controversial technology really works or not.
During the past year, Shawyer continued to work on his EmDrive and refine the technology as a project for the Gilo Industries Group.
If the impossible drive actually works, it could cut travel time in space dramatically. Instead of needing nine months to travel from Earth to Mars, an EmDrive powered ship could make it in 10 weeks.
What do you think about the new EmDrive patent obtained by Roger Shawyer?
[Featured Image by Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images]