Details of the scientific paper that NASA scientists at the Johnson Spaceflight Center’s Eagleworks lab wrote about the EM drive have been leaked. The paper contains some interesting particulars of the engine that does not require propellant to operate but instead relies on microwaves bounced around inside a cavity. Even though the idea seems to violate physical laws, the engine appears to have worked during numerous tests.

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NASA found that the EM drive prototype generated 1.2 millinewtons of force for every kilowatt of energy put into it. That places the engine between a Hall thruster, a kind of plasma rocket that produces 60 millinewtons per kilowatt and a solar sail which catches 6.67 micro newtons of force, either from sunlight or a laser.

Scientists have maintained that the results in various labs, including Eagleworks, have to be the results of experimental error.

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But the scientists at Eagleworks do not think this to be the case. Furthermore, some researchers in both Finland and Great Britain have posited theories of how the EM drive will work according to the laws of physics.

Roger Shawyer, the inventor of the EM drive, has already patented a new version of the engine that is alleged to create orders of magnitude more thrust. Guido Fetta, the inventor of a similar device called the Cannae drive, has announced his intention to test his engine in Space.

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The implications of a working EM drive cannot be overstated. Spacecraft, traveling to destinations such as the moon, Mars, and even the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, would be able to build up massive velocity impossible for vehicles using conventional or any other kind of rocket. Moreover, they would not have to take with them vast amounts of propellant. All a spacecraft with an EM drive would need is a power source, solar panels or even a nuclear reactor.

Flights to Mars would no longer take months, but a few weeks instead. Human missions to destinations such as Europa, a moon of Jupiter, or Titan and Enceladus, moons of Saturn, would be within the realm of practicality.

The next step would be to test an EM drive in space, perhaps by bolting it onto a tiny cubesat, and sending it to some place, say an asteroid or even the planet Mars, to see how it might work.

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