Friday, January 27, 2017

A New Space Race Kicks Off Between the US and China Thanks to EmDrive

The EmDrive is a controversial space propulsion engine technology that is supposed to be able to function without any form of rocket fuel and get astronomers into space much quicker than anything ever has before. But, for obvious reasons, it has received much criticism and scepticism along the way. However, China has just announced that they’re busy carrying out tests using the EmDrive, so it appears not everyone is against the idea.

After funding researchers for five years, testing is finally being carried out aboard China’s Tiangong-2 space station. The way in which the spacecraft works is by releasing microwaves into a cone-shaped engine that allows it to thrust forwards like a propulsion system. The man responsible for the acceleration of the EmDrive technology is Roger Shawyer, when in 1999 he claimed that the EmDrive technology would allow astronomers to reach Mars in just 70 days, opposed to the three or fours months it would normally take.

But, China isn’t the only one looking to use the EmDrive. In November 2016, NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory team submitted the research paperwork for the EmDrive spacecraft. Some of the data that NASA’s paperwork revealed included that a frequency resonant cavity thrusters had been created by Eagleworks Laboratories, the thruster had the ability to produce 1.2 millinewtons per kilowatt of thrust inside a vacuum, and that NASA used electricity to manufacture and bounce microwaves in a nearby copper cone.

Although there’s still a way to go before the EmDrive is recognized as a reputable source of technology, it is showing promise. Have the Chinese spotted this and that’s what’s spurred them on to get involved in this so called space race? Probably. But, surely NASA won’t let someone else beat them to the finish line with the EmDrive will they? I doubt it. What will happen now is that testing of the EmDrive by NASA will be accelerated to ensure they are the first to report any good news in this area. But, until that happens, it’s a fair fight, and one that we’ll all just have to sit back and watch to see how it pans out.