NASA: 'impossible' engine could change space travel forever

Posted Aug 2, 2014 by Andrew Ellis
Roger Shawyer may soon be getting a lot of attention. When he first built what is now called the EmDrive, no one took it seriously. That started to change in 2012 after a team of Chinese scientists built it themselves, and it worked.
The Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket with a Cygnus space capsule on board waits for launch at t...
The Orbital Sciences Corp. Antares rocket with a Cygnus space capsule on board waits for launch at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia last year.
Bill Ingalls-NASA/Wikimedia Commons
Shawyer's EmDrive is simple and very lightweight, according to Sploid. Its thrust is made possible from "bouncing microwaves around in a closed container."
The British researcher's engine, whose design is so different that based on classical mechanics it shouldn't work, can also use solar energy to provide electricity to generate the microwaves, according to Yahoo News. Adding to that, the engine doesn't require any kind of propellant so it can work until the hardware stops working.
The Chinese scientists were able to produce an engine powerful enough to produce 720 millinewton, a measure of force, which is reportedly enough to build a satellite thruster, according to Sploid.
Then it was America's turn. In August of 2013, scientist Guido Fetta and a team at NASA Eagleworks were able to make a less powerful engine, but still used the same concept.
Sploid reports that the results, a portion of which is seen below, were presented in Cleveland, Ohio on July 30 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference:
"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."
Nothing else has been revealed as to what NASA plans to do with these findings.