Mach Effect Propulsion Levels Becoming Significant and Reliable

Nextbigfuture has had dozens of articles covering the experimental and theoretical propellantless propulsion system of James Woodward.

In 2017-2018, there was belief that significant propulsion effects were realized. The actual experiments were at 1-5 micronewtons but there was hope of scaling it with increased power to 60 millinewtons with a kilowatt system. However, errors were found.

Woodward has built a new kind of mount that positions the piezoelectric disk stack in the center of two rods riding on ball bushings. The new thruster mount does not damp the harmonized vibrations that are key to propulsive force in these devices.

The MEGA drive has been propulsive force measured at more than 100-micronewtons instead of the 1 to 5-micronewton range. The MEGA thruster can now be seen moving by about half a millimeter.

The effect can only be seen for a few seconds. The resonant frequency constantly changes as the device heats up and varies with the experimental setup. Chip Akins, an engineer, is building a custom amplifier that will track the resonant frequency as it changes. If this chip works as intended then the MEGA drive will produce a sustained thrust.

Mike McDonald, an aerospace engineer at the Naval Research Laboratory in Maryland, will independently test the system. Testing will likely begin in 2021 after the pandemic. If all goes well a small device could be taken into space late in 2021 or in 2022.

The 2017 Plan Delayed by Four Years

At 23 minutes of the 2017 NASA video. SSI SA Dr. Heidi Fearn explains how just scaling power and size causes problems. (heat, arcing and other problems). For Mach effect propellantless propulsion it will be better to go to an array of smaller devices.

They need 1-5 years to get to 1-5 millinewtons of thrust after getting constant hundreds of micronewtons with the new mount and the frequency tracking chip. They will use better materials and other near-term design improvements.
In 5-10 years, have an array of several devices to get to 10-20 millinewtons.
10-20 years, increase thrust to 1 newton for each device.
Test arrays of 100 – 1 newton devices
MEGA space propulsion would be 1000+ 1 newtons devices.

MEGA would be powered by a 5 MW nuclear power source.

Constant Acceleration of Even 0.01g Beats Big Rockets for Mars and Beyond

The table below from Project Rho shows that constant acceleration beats really big rockets for trips to Mars and beyond.

0.01g gets you to Mars in 30 days and anywhere out to Pluto in 11 months or less.

It would take 353.7 days of constant 1 gravity acceleration to reach the speed of light.

A mature Mach Effect propulsion system would be like the world of the fictional show the Expanse or Star Trek with impulse drive but not warp drive.

It should be noted that Jim Woodward’s theorizes that the Mach effect systems could be extended to create stable wormholes.

SOURCES- Wired, NASA, James Woodward, SSI, Project Rho
Written By Brian Wang,

62 thoughts on “Mach Effect Propulsion Levels Becoming Significant and Reliable”

  1. It's a beautiful dream if this mach effect thruster really worked. But it's been tested rigorously in Dresden and nothing could be found. Thanks for trying though Dr's Fearn and Woodward.

  2. As space and the potential energy in it is expanding, perhaps collapsing pockets of space to a sub-vacuum state provide power. Not for nothing, you'd be burning space itself as the fuel.

  3. Symmetries denote conservation, but general relativity changes time symmetry from a global to a local scale (as demonstrated by an expanding universe), so globally energy is not conserved.
    If so, Woodward's "gravity transistor" hypothesis is possible and the photon-rocket thermodynamic violation counterargument is inapplicable.

  4. I don't see how the snowball drive can move at all, (unless the entire spaceship radiates heat non-uniformly, which is a photon drive).

    Here's the problem. The center of mass of the entire system must remain stationary at each step of the story. When I throw the snowball, it flies one direction, and I fly the opposite direction (more slowly, because I'm more massive), but our center of mass remains stationary.

    Then I hit one end of the spaceship, which makes the shell start moving in that direction, while I slow down a little. But the center of mass of me+snowball+ship is still stationary.

    Then the snowball hits the other end, and the shell stops moving. The center of mass is still stationary.

    The snowball that is stuck to the far wall evaporates. This moves the molecules toward me. And as each molecules leaves the snowball, it gives a tiny kick to the wall, and so makes the wall start moving the opposite direction a tiny amount. And they balance such that the center of mass is still stationary.

    And if I have a huge catcher's mitt that is kept cold, so that the vapor all eventually condenses in my hand, by the same argument, the center of mass is still stationary.

    At every step, the center of mass doesn't move. At least, that's true in Newtonian physics. And it's true in relativity, if we are far from any gravity sources, and if the "movement" of the center of mass is measured in an inertial reference frame in which it was stationary to begin with.

  5. I didn't follow this discussion very carefully, but it seems
    to me that the kinetic energy gained should not exceed
    the energy consumed by the reactionless drive. This
    doesn't put a fixed cap on speed, but it limits it nonetheless.
    By the way, Einstein's starting assumption is that indeed
    there is a maximum speed, and that speed is the speed
    of light in vacuum.

  6. You don't need to account for relativity if your critical speed is only 10 km/s. That's LONG before relativity becomes significant for anything other than precise chronometers or the like.

  7. Fusion works fine at very large scales. It's scaling it DOWN that appears to be the problem.

    Creation of a working fusion system:
    1.. obtain sufficient hydrogen
    2.. Done!

  8. Do you have any potential ideas for a limiter effect that would prevent an over unity situation but still allow for some useful propulsion?

  9. So if I accelerate to a million miles per hour before turning on the drive, then I can reach a maximum speed a million mph faster? Somehow the universe remembers my starting velocity?

    Suppose I get to the max velocity, turn the drive off, then turn it back on? My starting velocity is way faster now, why can't I double my ultimate velocity this way?

  10. I looked at that. It basically requires that you count mass attributable to energy in some steps, but not in others. You put a bunch of energy into a weight, accelerate it in one direction, take the energy out, and accelerate it in the other direction, and because energy has mass, you get net force.

    But this require not counting the force required to move that energy back and forth.

    Which you wouldn't normally count, because it's so small, but leaving that out is the only reason he doesn't net out at zero.

  11. The Navy has been filing a lot of insane patents lately. I mean, patents that are literally insane given laws of physics that look anything like what we've thought they've been since about a century ago.

    Either we're living in a really cheesy SF novel, or this is some kind of psyop.

  12. Alternatively, you could use Loftrom's dynamic structure technique to build a high altitude terminal for a rotovator system, where you reach the pickup altitude by elevator, not rocket plane.

    Or, once you're above the atmosphere, some other acceleration system in orbit could handle the delta-V to and from orbital velocity. There are several concepts for such systems, once you're up above the atmosphere.

    I really think his dynamic structure concept is better suited for building *static* structures that allow you to reach out of the atmosphere, than for providing the actual acceleration. This permits the rotor to operate in a quasi-static fashion without the transients that his complete system requires it to undergo.

    Bottom line, though: Great concept, but I don't think the economics permit it to be brought in before the rotovator.

  13. I'm quite familiar with the launch loop, it's a clever idea. It gets around the strength of materials issues with tethers, you could even use it to build a sky hook. (See the orbital fountain in Forward's "Dragon's Egg") I love the idea of dynamic structures.

    However, the capital costs for it are as much beyond a tether, as the tether's capital costs are beyond a rocket; Instead of hundreds of kilometers of high strength composite, you have hundreds of kilometers of high power electronics. The physics? Quite workable. The engineering? Certainly feasible. The economics? Don't look so great at low traffic volumes.

    I expect it to be used in time. AFTER the rotovator.

    You start out with the rockets. Once they're affordable, the amount of traffic into space starts increasing. It reaches a point where accountants say that a rotovator is financially sound. They start getting built, but you have to reach them by (lesser!) rockets, or high performance rocket planes. Traffic keeps increasing.

    At some point the accountants say that the next step is economically feasible, and you build, probably not a launch loop. You build a mass driver for tough cargo. Traffic keeps increasing.

    Then you build a really long, lower G mass driver, and use Loftrom's dynamic structure technique to support a fixed vacuum enclosure from the end of it up to the top of the atmosphere, (And no transients in your loop!) and you've got a subway from ground to LEO, which can even operate in both directions.

  14. I have liked the idea of asteroid flyby rotorvators that can snag quite heavy objects off the ocean.

    Have rockets on hydrofoils to get the payload moving and reduce stress on the tether, or have a plane pull up as it is skyhookef

  15. Well, if the universe has no problem handing out dark energy that is spreading us apart, it shouldn’t mind if we find ways bringing us and destinations closer

  16. I contacted Martin Tajmar a couple years ago about what the reference frame was for this, since there is no exhaust. His reply was CBR.

  17. This is the part that really bothers me:

    "The MEGA thruster can now be seen moving by about half a millimeter.

    The effect can only be seen for a few seconds. The resonant frequency
    constantly changes as the device heats up and varies with the
    experimental setup. Chip Akins, an engineer, is building a custom
    amplifier that will track the resonant frequency as it changes. If this
    chip works as intended then the MEGA drive will produce a sustained
    It makes me feel like there may be something else going on here and what they are seeing is not actual thrust.

  18. This is the part that really bothers me:

    "The MEGA thruster can now be seen moving by about half a millimeter.

    The effect can only be seen for a few seconds. The resonant frequency
    constantly changes as the device heats up and varies with the
    experimental setup. Chip Akins, an engineer, is building a custom
    amplifier that will track the resonant frequency as it changes. If this
    chip works as intended then the MEGA drive will produce a sustained
    It makes me feel like there may be something else going on here and what they are seeing is not actual thrust.

  19. The real problem tho' is that relativity kind of guarantees that to the entities aboard the accelerating spacecraft, they can NOT 'know' any mass-gain / mass-loss difference by measurement. Indeed, that's the huge-and-whole-big-deal about Relativity which refines its mathematics so esquisitely.

    So, I don't know. I'm not as mathematically gifted as others, so I'll defer to them. It ust feels though that the 0.1 c business is a fixup which really in practice wouldn't be physically meaningful.

  20. Did you ever accounted for the relativistic effects when you oscillate the mass in the direction of acceleration?
    To explain:
    at relativistic speed when you accelerate the mass forward you are at the same time increasing the transient mass (increasing speed) and decreasing the transient mass (reducing the energy content).
    The same is true when you accelerate the mass backward. You push energy in (increasing the transient mass) but you are reducing the speed (decreasing the mass).
    Faster you go, less efficient is the effect.

    IIRC, Woodward estimated a max 0.1c speed was theoretically possible.

    The same is true for your idea of connecting the drive with a spinning motor. Faster it goes, smaller is the tangential component of the acceleration of the mass compared to the rest and the device become inefficient very fast.

  21. The energy is what Woodward provides. It will be with a nuclear fission reactor. Energy is not the problem. The problem is whether the quantum vacuum is what they can use that to push against.

  22. James Woodward claims that it involves further calculation of the Newtonian equations. I am not in a position to mathematically test that, but I hope to eventually get that education.

  23. I just read about these. The assist bolo appears to be the most feasible based on materials constraints. The issue here is being able to connect to it while flying at Mach 12. Linking up for aerial refueling is difficult enough. I can't imagine accomplishing the same feat at Mach 12.

  24. Fundamental statistical science prohibits projecting beyond ones data base by more than a reliable extent. Usually this is about 1 sigma beyond the data field or about 1/6 of the linearized data to provide a visual model rather than a more complex formula based model. In any case I support the Goat guys point of having a limiting rational projection method.

  25. I wasn't going to reply, yet … I see your thinking, and I hope to gently correct it in the context of the Woodward-Mach effect thruster's supposed dynamical operating theory. 

    Imagine instead a water vapor gas, frozen into a ball at one end, and thrown to the other. But where the condensation itself imparts ADDITIONAL MASS to the ball, above-and-beyond that entrained in the H₂O molecules themselves.  

    Ah. Throwing takes MORE effort, because of the more mass. 
    And the 'more effort' is the same as 'more force × time'
    More newtons-seconds of impulse. 

    In physics, there's a very well conserved principle: for every action, there is an EQUAL and opposite reaction. 

    So, while inside that tube, you chuck the heavy snowball. It zooms to one end, and you toward the other. When you hit the end, the spaceship tube receives that inertia and itself starts going the same direction. When the snowball hits the other end, things are reversed.  The space tube inches forward a bit.  Hey motion!

    Normally it'd work out to a big old 'zero', because the same mass, evaporating would come back into equilibrium, imparting mass-times-velocity back to the tube.  

    However, in our SPECIAL CASE, the mass of the vapor is less than the snowball. Thus … the space tube permanently inches forward. Indeed, it might have a residual net-positive velocity. Might even be a significant velocity, thus a sizable acceleration.  

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  26. For oh about the last 8+ years, as I challenged this Mach-Effect propulsion (and almost all variants on the idea), I too felt that way.  Indeed: I still do share your sentiment at the core.  

    It is so dâhmned easy for the authors of these articles to effortlessly scale things by orders-of-magnitude (powers of 10) at all levels, turning mostly pointless actual results into trips-to-the-stars.  You know, 1,000 thrusters here, getting newtons (basically 10,000×) more thrust per thruster, reducing power-per-newton by 1,000× or better.  Orders of magnitude.  

    Magnificent Thrust = Silly Thrust × 10³ × 10⁴ × 10³ … or quantitatively,
    kN = µN × 10⁹

    Right?  Yet each of those magical powers-of–10 is truly wishful. Some ideas scale well, and easily.  Nuclear power (fission) is one. Build a bigger pile, and output multiplies quite beyond the scaling. Evidence right down to the atomic scale for such scaling. Yada. 

    But likewise, how about fusion?  Similarly attractive power potential, and each bigger machine has ALWAYS been the hope-chest of hidden new science that'd overcome instabilities of the previously ho-hum scaling experiments.  

    But no. 
    Some things don't scale well. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  27. I really have to take exception to that "no new physics required". OK, technically you can say that, by resorting to old theories that never caught on, or got developed enough to challenge the ones that did.

    But, really, it does require a change to our understanding of physics, and that's "new physics" so far as I'm concerned, even if people were speculating about "advanced waves" and "absorber theory" back in the 1920's.

  28. Speed compared to what? To have a maximum speed, you must have an absolute reference point. That would mean Einstein's starting assumption was wrong, and it's just an enormous coincidence that atom bombs work.

  29. Nah, I don't think so. The forces they're trying to measure are well within the range where a PROPER experimental setup should give unambiguous results.

    By proper, I mean the sort of attention to detail you'd resort to if you were trying to measure the gravitational constant in your lab. Faraday cages with self-contained apparatus, in a vacuum, hanging from a metalized quartz fiber torsion pendulum, nothing ferromagnetic in the area. Operate it at the resonant frequency of the pendulum. A setup like that could detect the thrust from an LED, never mind what they're claiming.

    Properly obsessive elimination of every possible source of experimental error. The sort of thing any good lab could do in the 1920s, forget a century later.

    I suspect the problem here is a subconscious concern that, if they eliminated all possible sources of error, the effect would go away. People who subconsciously doubt something wonderful is real are remarkably good at avoiding proving their doubts justified.

  30. Imagine you had a long tunnel with water vapour, you freeze one side.
    From the frozen side you make a snowball and throw it away to the other end.
    The ball flies, and then you heat up the tunnel, it melts and vaporizes.
    You wait till the damp pressure is equal and then you repeat the process.

  31. I don't believe this effect exists, but lets assume it does… Whos to say the math is not slightly off? So that a correct description caps the speed so that no net energy is created?

    Up until now they have only measured the force when the "thruster" is stationary…..

  32. There is no such thing as "propellantless propulsion" unless the Sun or a light/particle beam from outside is doing the work. Either your propellant mass is pushing the spacecraft, or it is generating the electricity for the whatever-effect drive. How much kg Plutonium will be needed to power a 5 MW reactor? – that's the propellant mass. milinewtons?? Why is this not much less efficient than just using the Plutonium as propellant for Fission Fragment propulsion??

  33. Hmm — for clarification, are we talking _local_ Q>1( I.E. the device itself) or 'total' energy balance( where the sum of energy theoretically 'borrowed' from the universe is less than the output of the system)?

    If the latter, perhaps 'magical' would be a bit hasty, as we would then be talking about an operational 'threshold' where an energy pump becomes an energy siphon….

    As for UFOs: Given the fact that close encounters seem very much to be a 'real charade'( a song and dance put on for the benefit/detriment of the abductees), the arbitrary change by these unidentified objects of both movement and form, and the many overlaps between abduction experiences and old accounts of possession, my inclination if the phenomenon is real would be to say that something else is posing as the aliens, and that this is more likely than the converse. But who knows right now?

    Are you by any chance familiar enough to have any thoughts on the strange case of Bob Lazar? Lot of pieces in that case that if held up next to each other don't amount to a clear whole for either side.

  34. Yes, the reusable rockets create the high traffic to space necessary for the capital cost for the rotovator to become cost effective. The rocket creates the basis for its own replacement.

    Rockets will likely always be the preferred option for destinations without a lot of traffic, but we'll probably be using rotovators to get into orbit within 1-2 decades.

  35. I met a guy who came up with one of these concepts. I think the capital cost to develop something like this would be quite higher than re-usable rockets (e.g. Space X).

  36. Thanks for the ⊕1.  The Universe doesn't really seem to be a perpetual motion machine in that it is creating more energy all the time (as a PMM would). What it does seem to have is a whole lot of potential reclaimable energy-of-formation.  

    Each and every helium, hydrogen atom is in a fairly high energy state; fusion creates more stable, lower energy nuclei, liberating the energy-of-stabilization. That appears to power the stars. Down the road, as the primordial fuel is exhausted, heavier elements form; most end up in tiny white dwarves, them eventually browning out to cold deadness over trillions of years.  A few larger ones explode as supernovæ., ejecting the heavier elements …. powering the formation of planets such as ours.  

    But you know that part.  

    Technically, even the Newtonian and Einstein dictated gravitational interactions aren't 'perpetual motion'.  All lose energy in every gravitational near-miss with whatever they've nearly missed. Turning up as heat. Again, no perpetual motion. A LOT of original kinetic energy and potential formation energy!

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  37. The thing is, that I've actually read the maths, and “if the Machs Principle / Effect works”, then there are also no intrinsic hidden variables or 'gotchas' that would prevent exceeding unity electrical-energy-to-kinetic-energy onversion. None.  

    On the one hand, as a lifelong physics realist, I can almost-but-not-quite say in turn, "well, that cannot be, so it cannot ultimately work".  I could say that as an experimenter, knowing the myriad types of systematic errors, omissions, problems and parasitic effects that often are measured as 'evidence' for A, B or C. Until the physics is vetted, and the magic effects go away.  

    But those are kind of cheap shots, too.  

    On the OTHER hand, this kind of technology would, hugely scaled to levels not yet seriously considered, also explain one of the most disturbingly 'constant' phenomena assiciated with the more (in-)credible UFO encounters.  Namely, enormous 'impossible' accelerations, without apparent tailpipe emissions.  

    Mach-effect thrusters, if scaled to the newtons-per-watt level, would definitely make for nearly magic spacecraft, as well ad terrestrial and subsurface craft.  Easily able to accelerate to hundreds of G's.  In any direction, instantly.  

    Somewhat beggaring belief for most, it is this last bit which keeps me interested.  
    IF IT WORKS AT ALL, and hundreds-to-thousands of years of science is applied… 

    Who knows?
    Could be that!

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  38. There are several options if it works:

    It's possible the theory overlaps but does not fully describe the operating principle.

    It's possible( i would consider this the most likely) that between real effect and Q>1 the universe has some 'unk unks' of which we are unaware that prevent break-even( Which would be great. This is how knowledge advances).

    Finally, of course, it is possible that the principle applies all the way past unity, in which case we're essentially talking magic, as it would somehow bypass the normal functions of the universe down to the most basic principles themselves. I doubt very much that would prove to be the case.

  39. Nothing says "transient thermal effect" like the thrust going away after a few seconds.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd absolutely love for this thing to work. But if it really does work, the universe is a VERY different place from what we currently think.

  40. I'm not saying you are wrong, BUT the Universe itself is a perpetual motion machine, in that it *has* more energy than was there to start. Vacuum fluctuation escaped from re absorbtion, or such. And the energy of the device is moving, so it may be some sort of speed of light conundrum, where doubling the speed (or energy) does not measure that way from a single frame. And I am spewing here, not making claims. Science must start with the experiment!

  41. That's true. But it doesn't need to.  There are all sorts of fantastic 'wheels-in-space-that-dip-into-the-atmosphere' ideas that are actually pretty workable.  Much more likely to be a cheap, reliable way into and out of the atmosphere compared both to rocketry and the improbably hard 'elevators' to space.   

    Ferris wheels … built on carbon fiber rope technologies not terribly different from those used to power alpine ski lifts.  Much bigger. Very Swiss-German.

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  42. And if the design goal is “0.01 G” of accleeration, with the 1000 N thruster, then since

    F = ma
    m = F/a … 
    m = 1000 / (0.01 × 9.81)  conversion of G to SI acceleration
    m ≈ 10,000 kg or 10 tons.

    Nope, that doesn't work: no way a thousand thrusters of maybe a few kg each, and a 5 megawatt power plant are fitting inside a 10 ton bodget. 250 tons?  Sure. Wouldn't bet “the farm” on it, but it is not unreasonable. 

    So, working that direction:

    F = ma
    a = F/m
    a = 1,000 newtons ÷ 250,000 kg
    a = 0.004 m/s² … or
    a = 0.000408 gravity

    And we can figure

    Earth = 1 AU
    Mars = 1.7 AU best transit case

    d = ½at² or 
    t = √( 2d/a ), but we're not interested in a fly-by, so double of half-distance
    t = 2 √( 2( ½d ) / a )
    t = 2 √( 1.4065×10¹¹ m ÷ 0.004 m/s² )
    t = 10,230,000 sec …
    t = 118 day …
    t = 3.9 mo

    A little longer than the projection, but with a more realistic mass.

    v = at
    v = 0.004 m/s² × 10,230,000 sec
    v = 40,920 m/s

    Ek = ½mv²
    Ek = ½ × 250,000 kg × 40,920²
    Ek = 209,300 gigajoules
    Ek = 58 GWh

    And the input power is

    Ep = Pt
    Ep = 5,000,000 Watt × 10,230,000 sec
    Ep = 51,150 gigajoules
    Ep = ¼ the Ek roughly

    See? 4 times breakeven. Free energy!!!

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  43. ⊕1 for the plug, of course. 
    The relevant 2 equations are:

    V = 2P / F for total self-powered pod over-unity point and
    V = P / F for the ΔV giving more Ek than energy injected to thruster.


    P = power in watts
    F = force in newtons
    V = velocity in meters per second. 

    As to hold the wishful thinking quantitatively to task:

    1,000 ea., of the 1 Newton thrusters, powered by a 5,000,000 Watt nuclear power source:

    V = 2P / F 
    V = 2 × 5,000,000 ÷ 1,000
    V = 10,000 m/s or
    V = 10 km/s

    So, after when the thousand newtons has finally accelerated the whole interplanetary pod by greater than 10,000 Δv meters per second, at that point the imparted kinetic energy to the whole craft will lEXCEED that of all energy fed into the device to accomplish the thrusting acceleration.  Cool!

    Free energy is a delightful thing.  
    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  44. Channeling GG: this device (if it works) would violate CoE very easily. And with it a lot of assumptions of physics are thrown out of the window.

    Any self propelled device in a vacuum with a thrust greater than a photon rocket will eventually have more kinetic energy in it than the one you have spent pushing it, and this above a certain speed less than c, dependent on its efficiency of Newtons per watt conversion.

    The greater the efficiency, the smaller the relative speed required.

    Yeah, they can woo their way out of that fact by saying it extracts energy from somewhere else, but from our perspective, this would be an effective perpetual energy machine.

    Which is great for propulsion engineers and science fiction fans dreams, but ugly for physics and for other reasons (free energy and thrust => easy relativistic starships => cheap planet crackers).

    Surely they need to prove the hell out of it to determine if there's really something or if it's yet another measurement error/wishful thinking case.

    Me, and sorry if that sounds harsh, but I suspect it's only an elderly professor wishing to see his dream come true before he's no longer around.

  45. Nice!

    I can see this enabling deep space propulsion (assuming it pans out of course). However, there is no way its going to replace conventional propulsion for Earth to LEO.

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