In recent Emdrive news, many people are speculating as to whether the United States military is secretly testing the Emdrive in space on board the Air Force's mysterious X-37B spacecraft. Prior to this, it had been guessed by a number of outlets that the Chinese might be testing their own version of the Emdrive on their newly minted space station, but this is the first time it's been speculated that the United States has a similar secretive Emdrive research program.
Nature of the EmdriveNews that the Air Force might be testing the Emdrive begs the questions: just what is the Emdrive and how does it work? In essence, the Emdrive is a highly controversial propulsion system that – if its supporters are correct – will revolutionize both manned and unmanned space travel. The Emdrive has been tested at several labs around the world, including in China and the United States. NASA's Eagleworks lab has conducted an extensive test and has detected a small but noticeable thrust being produced by the Emdrive. What makes this remarkable is that no fuel or propellant is involved in the process.
According to Newton's laws of motion, what's occurring should be patently impossible. In fact, most scientists around the world still believe that it is impossible. Nevertheless, evidence – including a peer-reviewed paper – keeps piling up to suggest that something strange – no one is quite sure what – is going on.
If the Emdrive turns out to work as advertised, it would allow spacecraft to travel much faster and much further than they ever have before. The ability to maintain a constant thrust throughout a flight and the elimination of the necessity to carry fuel to produce that thrust could result in a new Age of Exploration – except this time it would be in space.
For example, a Mars bound manned spacecraft could – using conventional rockets – be expected to take six months or more to get to the red planet. But an Emdrive powered ship could make it to Mars in 70 days – perhaps less.
What Is the Air Force X-37B?The X-37B is a highly classified reusable lifting body spacecraft being used by the United States Air Force to carry out undefined missions. Unlike the manned space shuttle – to which it bears a slight resemblance – the much smaller unmanned X-37B remains in orbit for months at a time before returning to Earth. As reported by Space.com, the X-37B has recently broken a record of 674 days in orbit.
The assumption by experts has been that the Air Force is using this vehicle as an advanced deployable satellite surveillance system. In this scenario, the X-37B would be photographing or otherwise recording the facilities, activities, and movements of potential United States adversaries.
According to the latest Emdrive news – or rumors depending on who you're asking – from Next Big Future, the United States government has been secretly testing an Emdrive propulsion system onboard the X-37B – possibly for years. Supposedly, this work is being carried out under the cover of testing an entirely different – and much less significant – kind of propulsion known as a Hall thruster.
If this is true, it could mean that the X-37B actually has deep space capability. Instead of simply staying in orbit for hundreds of days at a time, a functioning Emdrive on the X-37B would allow the spacecraft to leave Earth orbit for the moon or even somewhere further away. If confirmed, this particular piece of Emdrive news would have staggering implications – both for the United States manned space program and future military activity in space.
[Featured Image by U.S. Air Force]