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New 'Impossible' Space Engine Might Work, According To NASA

Update Date: Aug 04, 2014 11:09 AM EDT
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The "impossible" space propulsion technology might actually work, according to results from recent tests conducted at Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

The test involved generating a small amount of thrust with the help of microwave thruster system without any propellant. The thruster harnesses subatomic quantum particles popping in and out of existence, a hypothesis mentioned in a related study.

According to experts, if the technology pans out, it would make spaceflight far cheaper and speedier. 

"Test results indicate that the RF [radio frequency] resonant cavity thruster design, which is unique as an electric propulsion device, is producing a force that is not attributable to any classical electromagnetic phenomenon and, therefore, is potentially demonstrating an interaction with the quantum vacuum virtual plasma," the researchers wrote in their study, which they presented Wednesday at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, according to NBC News.

The technology is a brainchild of British researcher Roger Shawyer, who claimed his "EmDrive" could generate thrust by rocketing microwaves around in a chamber. Solar power could be used to produce the microwaves, hence eliminating the need for propellant. However, other scientists dismissed and downplayed such claims arguing that the system violated the law of conservations of momentum. 

The device in question produces 30 to 50 micronewtons of thrust. 

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