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, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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