China has claimed it is in the process of testing an EmDrive in space, a key experiment that could prove whether the controversial thruster works or not.
As reported by IBTimes UK, China reportedly has an EmDrive on its Tiangong-2 satellite, which was visited by two Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) in October this year. It’s not entirely clear what the experiment is doing exactly, but it’s sure to cause a stir in EmDrive circles.
China has apparently been testing out EmDrive technology for the last five years. That’s according to an article titled “Electromagnetic drive: Arabian Nights or a major breakthrough” in the official newspaper of China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, called Science and Technology Daily.
And the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) reportedly held a press conference in Beijing last week to discuss their research.
“National research institutions in recent years have carried out a series of long-term, repeated tests on the EmDrive,” Dr Chen Yue, head of the communication satellite division at CAST, said at the press conference, reported IBTimes UK. “We have successfully developed several specifications of multiple prototype principles.”
Now, we don’t know the veracity of all this. It’s also not certain what China is testing, nor whether they are saying it works or not. They may simply be checking out the various claims that have been made so far.
And, what’s more, the EmDrive remains controversial. It’s a purported reactionless engine dreamed up by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2006 that works by bouncing electromagnetic waves inside a cone-shaped cavity. This is said to produce a tiny force, but over time this force could be used to power spacecraft on deep space missions, for example.
It came back into the fore recently with a peer-reviewed paper published in the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power in November by NASA’s Eagleworks laboratory. However, that paper only sought to rule out several possible experimental errors, and there is still no proof that the technology actually does anything.
“The most likely outcome is that momentum really is conserved and there's something funny going on here,” Ethan Siegel wrote for Forbes last month.
Criticize the EmDrive at your peril, though, because there are plenty of fans who are adamant it works. Unfortunately, that hasn't been proven so far. So don’t go jumping on any interstellar bandwagons just yet.
(H/T: IBTimes UK)