NASA Looking to EmDrive to Revolutionize Space Travel

NASANASA is looking to revolutionize space travel with a newly-developed space drive named EmDrive. The drive was conceptualized by a British engineer named Robert Shaywer, who was criticized and ridiculed by British scientists for his idea. He built demonstration thrusters proving the science was solid, and ensured the test results were accurate by accounting for variables such as friction and electromagnetic effects. His first test in 2003 clearly demonstrated that the ideawas workable.

Chinese scientists have now built and tested this space drive, despite the worldwide scientific community’s disdain due to the fact that the system defies Newtonian physics. However, the Chinese researchers tested the drive successfully and NASA took notice. The Chinese team at Northwestern Polytechnic University, headed by Yang Juan, Professor of Propulsion Theory and Engineering of Aeronautics and Astronautics, collaborated with Shaywer. Their team authored a study called Net Thrust Measurement of Propellantless Microwave Thruster and created the EmDrive with 720 micro-Newtons of thrust and a few kilowatts of power.

The EmDrive works as a closed container that, when filled with resonating microwaves, produces a net thrust that was initially thought to violate the Newtonian law of conservation and momentum that states that no closed system can create a net thrust. NASA is looking to the EmDrive as a way to revolutionize space travel because it is a highly efficient, propellant-less propulsion system that could potentially be used in deep-space missions.

Space drives rely on Isaac Newton’s laws of motion which dictate that even with limitless power from solar cells, the thrust required to propel a spacecraft is limited to the supply of its propellant. There have been numerous attempts to overcome this requirement, including NASA experiments with anti-gravity and spinning superconductors in the 1990s. All of these trials failed and they became a source of ridicule in the scientific world.

This radically new space drive is supported by Einstein’s theory of relativity through the principle of group velocity, in which a mere pulse of light can have a group velocity faster than the speed of light. Boeing’s Phantom Works, which has been involved in classified projects in space research, acquired and tested the EmDrive, but no longer collaborates with Shaywer.

Yang and the Chinese team took a cautious approach, in 2008 creating a new analysis with quantum theory. This analysis supported Shaywer’s theory, and in 2010 the Chinese team effectively calculated the amount of thrust that could be produced. The 720 micro-Newtons of thrust would be sufficient to propel a satellite.

NASA then tested the viability of a microwave thruster similar to EmDrive. After eight days of work the NASA scientists generated 30-50 micro-Newtons of thrust, and verified that the force had not been generated by anything outside the test system. The paper written on the study stated that the force generating the thrust defies any classical electromagnetic phenomena and is potentially reacting with quantum vacuum plasma. This infers that the thrust is coming from pushing against a cloud of particles and anti-particles that are produced and then disappear again. NASA is playing it smart by looking into the EmDrive to revolutionize space travel, a concept that could potentially be the future of spaceflight.

By Adrianne Hill


Daily Tech
IFL Science

16 Responses to "NASA Looking to EmDrive to Revolutionize Space Travel"

  1. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray   April 6, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Maybe it’s not Rocket Science? Balloons give lift without generating downward thrust, and no-one claims that balloons violate physics- so this drive might do something similar. When looking at them, perhaps we should be thinking ‘cone-shaped balloons’, not ‘rocket thrusters’.

  2. John Newell   November 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    Thankyou for this article. Please see for one notion of how it can work.

  3. nealjking   August 10, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Maciej Marosz:

    – Your theory of operation violates the principles of special relativity, and is wrong.
    – The experiment to detect the effect of the motion of the earth on light has been done many timees, with a precision that greatly exceeds any measurement you could make with your iPhone camera. The failure to detect any such effect was a principal reason that the theory of relativity was accepted so readily. Please read about the famous Michelson & Morley experiment.

  4. Maciej Marosz   August 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    All we can explain and we c
    an use Si units

    You can repeat my experiment in home ( very cheap )

  5. Hubert Schilder   August 8, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Radar is not the same, It is about a radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity.
    I think it should easely be validated or disproved.
    That they even wouldnt try it out because they could not believe it that it could be working….. If it does.. check out

  6. James   August 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I used to work on a high power radar that generated 10 million watts peak power. That’s 4000 times the power used in the Chinese experiment and nothing ever even tried to move. If you scale the Chinese results that would have been about 100 lbs force applied to some system element and we sure would have noticed that. I think I will remain in the skeptics box.

  7. nealjking   August 5, 2014 at 12:16 am

    The NASA report ( ) indicates “Approximately 30-50 micro-Newtons of thrust were recorded from an electric propulsion test article consisting primarily of a radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity excited at approximately 935 megahertz.”

    Yang claims ( ) 720 mN at 2400 kW, about a factor 14,000 greater.

    The one thing that everyone agrees is that there is no explanation in terms of non-quantum physics; but also I’ve been unable to get my hands on the Chinese quantum-based theory. I am willing to bet that theory is nonsense as well.

  8. muphrid   August 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    this drive has been out for 10 plus yrs!!!!!!!!!!! —

    good that they are “looking’ into it now , this is VERY good news! 🙂

    better if they had done something about it in the late 1990s ..
    They will find the answers they are looking for regarding mechanisms in the study of subquamtum physics … Stoyan Sarg did a nice treatise on that yrs ago.

    it is not breaking any laws of physics…..just need a deeper understanding of the laws of physics at a subquantum level

  9. Stephen Rodney Ryan   August 4, 2014 at 8:48 am

    re the Chinese results – i’m pretty sure it’s 720 mN (720 milli-Newtons – about 72 grams) of thrust, NOT “720 micro-Newtons of thrust” (.072 grams) as shown above, ie it was actually 1000x greater

  10. nealjking   August 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Regarding the evidence: They tested two systems, one designed according to the concept, the other designed NOT to show the effect. But both showed the effect! That should be an alarm bell, warning that they haven’t gotten all the systematic errors out of their set-up. Even so, their measurements came in way below what was expected according to concept.

    Occam’s razor would conclude that there is likely no effect, and what they are measuring is unsorted systematics.

    It would be quite a coincidence if, by a calculation that is very clearly flawed, someone were able to build equipment that just happened to successfully violate conservation of momentum, energy, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  11. Phil   August 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

    I’m skeptical. But if it works the reason has nothing to do with the inventor’s paper or explanation and would constitute a new understanding of physics.

  12. nealjking   August 4, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Kelley: Have you read the paper? I have. Costella is essentially right: The calculation has at least one fatal error.

  13. Kelley Trezise   August 4, 2014 at 12:32 am

    I love how scientists first reaction to something new is to ridicule the idea and to shun people involved. To do so, even in the face of experimental evidence, shows a closed mind. Most “scientists” are really just priests that are frightened to death that something will turn up in their field that will overturn the beautiful boat they took years to construct.

  14. Julian   August 3, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    If this really works it will be the most important discovery since the wheel. If.

  15. nealjking   August 3, 2014 at 10:10 am

    I predict that the better the measurements are done, the less of an effect they will find.


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