spaceSpace and Physics

A Version Of The EmDrive Is Apparently Being Sent To Space


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

An artist's impression of the Cannae Drive in space. Cannae

A peer-reviewed paper on the EmDrive is being published in December, which has sent the Internet into a bit of a flutter. Now, it has also emerged that an engineer wants to send a prototype of the controversial thruster into space.

The EmDrive is a thruster that supposedly produces thrust from nowhere. Ever mired in skepticism, it involves bouncing microwaves inside a truncated cone, which then seems to generate a tiny, tiny thrust roughly equal to the weight of a mosquito. But there is no apparent thrust for the source, hence the controversy, and repeated tests have been inconclusive.


Research has supposedly been carried out at NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory in Texas, a place where scientists work on fringe theories like this. Now, engineer Guido Fetta, working on a parallel project called the Cannae Drive, wants to send it to space via the company Theseus Space Inc.

The thruster will apparently be sent into low Earth orbit in as little as half a year on a small satellite called a CubeSat at an altitude of no more than 240 kilometers (150 miles), staying in orbit for six months. “The primary mission objective is to demonstrate our thruster technology on orbit,” a statement on the company’s website reads. “Secondary objectives for this mission include orbital altitude and inclination changes performed by the Cannae-thruster technology.”

The project was announced last month, and has now been followed by the news that a peer-reviewed paper “in the area of electromagnetic propulsion” will appear in December in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Journal of Propulsion and Power. It’s not yet clear what the paper will say, but a supposed recent leak seemed to suggest repeated tests of the drive have been successful.

The EmDrive was first proposed by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2003, who recently told IBTimes that the “EmDrive will make a huge impact and a lot of people have thought of a lot of things to apply it to.” His research, for the UK government, was declassified in August 2016, and is available online.


We should stress again that there are a huge number of unknowns at the moment, but maybe by the end of the year we’ll have a better grasp on exactly how real the EmDrive is.


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