Propellantless space propulsion workshop

Marc Millis summarized the presentations at a Sept 10 to 14 workshop on propellantless propulsion in Estes Park Colorado.

(H/T Centauri Dreams)

Three different tests of the EmDrive were reported of varying degrees of rigor. All of the tests indicated that the claimed thrust is probably attributable to false positives.

Woodward’s Mach Effect Thruster had more analysis if positive results are indeed genuine, and then determining if they are scalable to practical levels. Woodward’s team, led by Heidi Fearn made a presentation. The Tajmar Dresden team had substantial progress to report, specifically where Maxime Monette covered the Mach Effect thruster details in addition to the thrust stand details from Matthias Kößling. There was also an analytical assessment by based on conventional harmonic oscillators, plus more than one presentation related to the underlying theory.

Skipping through all the open issues, the upshot is that variations in inertia would require revisions to the conservation laws.

Quantum approaches were also briefly covered, where Raymond Chiao discussed the negative energy densities of Casimir cavities and Jonathan Thompson (a prior student of Chiao’s) gave an update on experiments to demonstrate the “Dynamical Casimir effect” – a method to create a photon rocket using photons extracted from the quantum vacuum.

There were several other presentations. One was from retired physicist and science fiction writer, John Cramer, who described the assumptions needed to induce a wormhole using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that could cover 1200 light-years in 59 days.

By this time next year, Marc Millis believes we will have definitive results on the Mach Effect Thruster, and the findings of the EmDrive will likely arrive sooner.

If the results are positive and indicate that it does work, then there will be many more attempted replications and surge of interest and more hype.

Nextbigfuture will look to see what happens after Heidi Fearn and Tajmar and his team work together on the new Woodward device. The new device has a larger effect, so it should be easier for them to see any larger scaling error or whether there is a true effect.

If the results are negative and EMDrive and Mach Effect propulsion are disproved, then we will need to look for the intersection of open questions in physics to the critical make-break issues of those desired breakthroughs.

Refinement of the Mach Effect Propulsion using brass separation from the reaction mass has improved the thrust by about 65 times up to 60 millinewtons per kilowatt. This would be competitive with the best Hall ion thrusters if there is replication and proving the technology in space.

Heidi Fearn will be taking a working device to Dresden and will stay with them until they get it working. Dresden had problems with a previous device and published bad results.

In June, 2018, Tajmar and his team didn’t use the mandatory stepup/isolation transformer: Therefore they operated the device at the wrong frequency, one that could never trigger any thrust signature.

As the Dresden team saw nothing conclusive, they increased the voltage for too long and the temperature in the PZT stacks, so they also managed to toast the initially good-working device before returning it to Woodward in California four months later.

Martin Tajmar previously had good results on an 18 year old test device he had received from Woodward.

71 slide powerpoint lays out the tests that Woodwards team did to show that Martin Tajmar and his team made mistaken tests.

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