Jerry Pournelle talks about China’s orbital tests of the EMDrive as a bigger than Sputnik moment

Jerry Pournelle is a famed science fiction author who also had an interesting technology career

Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American science fiction writer, essayist and journalist who contributed for many years to the computer magazine Byte. Pournelle was an intellectual protégé of Russell Kirk and Stefan T. Possony. Pournelle wrote numerous publications with Possony, including The Strategy of Technology (1970). The Strategy has been used as a textbook at the United States Military Academy (West Point), the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs), the Air War College, and the National War College.

Pournelle worked in the aerospace industry includes time he worked at Boeing in the late-1950s. While there, he worked on Project Thor, conceiving of “hypervelocity rod bundles”, also known as “rods from God”. He edited Project 75, a 1964 study of 1975 defense requirements. He worked in operations research at The Aerospace Corporation, and North American Rockwell Space Division, and was founding President of the Pepperdine Research Institute. In 1989, Pournelle, Max Hunter, and retired Army Lieutenant General Daniel O. Graham made a presentation to then Vice President Dan Quayle promoting development of the DC-X rocket.

Jerry says, the question becomes, given the magnitude of this, why is it a surprise? We have 21 expensive intelligence agencies; not one of them knew the Chinese orbited an EM Drive? Of course it will be a while before we can do orbital tests. We have no rockets. That’s preparedness. Perhaps Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos can help? This is a signal larger than Sputnik. If the Intelligence Community knows about Russian hacking, why doesn’t it know about Chinese testing of a reactionless drive?

Nextbigfuture has covered the EMDrive and the propellentless Cannae drive

China’s space agency has officially confirmed that it has been funding research into the controversial space propulsion technology EmDrive, and that it plans to add the technology to Chinese satellites imminently.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the manufacturer of the Dong Fang Hong satellites, has held a press conference in Beijing explaining the importance of the EmDrive research and summarizing what China is doing to move the technology forward.

China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) team statements corresponds with information provided to IB Times from an anonymous source. According to their informant, China already has an EM Drive on board its version of the International Space Station, the space laboratory Tiangong-2.

Chinese researchers have at least constructed an EM Drive and have been studying it for more than five years now.

Chief designer of the CAST communication satellite division, Li Feng, told the media that so far their EM Drive only produces millinewtons of thrust (similar to NASA’s version) and to make it functional, they need to get those levels up to between 100 millinewtons and 1 newton.

The team is allegedly now working on the cavity design of the EM Drive and the position of the thruster, before testing their new versions on their satellites in orbit.

Logically if an EMDrive was placed on Tiangong-2 and no thrust was produced, this would be apparent right away. If tiny thrust was produced in orbit and in a vacuum then further research would be pursued. Further research could still occur if thrust seemed to be produced on the ground but did not appear in orbital microgravity. However in the case of no result in orbit, then the CAST team would probably not hold a press conference.

“This technology is currently in the latter stages of the proof-of-principle phase, with the goal of making the technology available in satellite engineering as quickly as possible,” Li Feng explained at the press conference.

“Although it is difficult to do this, we have the confidence that we will succeed.”