NASA tests Cannae Drive, impossible engine that might make deep space exploration possible

6 August 2014, 11:57 pm EDT By Lori Sandoval Tech Times
NASA's ICON satellite to study ionosphere, space weather

While it was previously thought to be impossible, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has just discovered that deep space or cosmos exploration could be doable with the use of a microwave thruster engine called Cannae Drive, which could provide a faster and much cheaper space propulsion.

Published at NASA Technical Reports Survey website, the paper, “Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum," has shown that the drive is able to produce a small amount of thrust without the need for chemical reactions or controlled explosions.

Some years back, a British scientist named Roger Shawyer of SPR Ltd. invented a similar system called EmDrive, says research. Without a propellant, it transforms electric power into thrusts by swooping microwaves around inside a closed container. Yet critics and fellow scientists dispelled his invention and theory and said it wasn’t possible.

Chinese scientists were also able to produce a similar effect in 2012.

Now, NASA’s test findings seem to go similarly with such technology, although it was American scientist Guido Fetta who was able to convince the agency to look at his own creation of microwave thruster Cannae Drive, which is without a propellant as well.

Results of their eight-day test campaign in August 2013 showed that a small amount of thrust was indeed achieved inside a container even when there was no usual fuel in it.

“Approximately 30-50 micro-Newtons of thrust were recorded from an electric propulsion test article consisting primarily of a radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity excited at approximately 935 megahertz,” the scientists wrote on the paper’s abstract. “Testing was performed on a low-thrust torsion pendulum that is capable of detecting force at a single-digit micronewton level, within a stainless steel vacuum chamber with the door closed but at ambient atmospheric pressure."

Still, it seemed like a tall order for now, because in two days of test operations, the scientists were only able to generate thrust on a very small measure. Test integration, meanwhile, required roughly six days.

Regardless, should this be made possible in the future, research also says that exploration to Mars carrying humans may only take weeks rather than months.

NASA’s test results were then presented at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio on July 30. Fetta likewise presented his paper on the Cannae Drive, titled “Numerical and Experimental Results for a Novel Propulsion Technology Requiring no On-Board Propellant,” at the Aerospace Research Central of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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