Space travel may drastically improve soon, thanks to something once deemed impossible by many experts. An American scientist has invented a fuel-less space drive, which has been given the seal of approval by NASA after being tested.
When a vehicle launches into space, it usually requires a heavy tank of expensive liquid hydrogen fuel that powers the thrusters that propel the spacecraft forward. But what if we could lighten the spacecraft's load, as well as make its launch less expensive?
The key to making that happen is fuel-less thrusters. But there's just one problem with that: until now, most scientists believed that creating such space drives were impossible. Roger Shawyer, a British scientist, claims that he's created such a system, but he's been shot down by experts who say that his system violates the laws of physics.
Scientist Guido Fetta, though, ignored the naysayers and built something similar: a drive that creates thrust by bouncing microwaves around inside a container, creating electricity. And now, after testing the engine, NASA is defending Fetta by stating that his system actually works.
Fetta's engine works by pushing against particles in what's called empty space, which in turn, creates thrust. Of course, space isn't actually empty, so, in theory, this works. The term for this is "quantum vacuum virtual plasma." In NASA's tests of the system, thrust happened without any need for fuel, making this engine the first of its kind to get the space agency's approval.
NASA's Johnson Center is now investigating the use of these thrusters. If testing goes well and we can actually use quantum vacuum for space travel, not only will spacecrafts become lighter and less expensive to produce, but they'll be able to travel farther into deep space without ever worrying about running out of fuel.
Of course, it's too early to get excited about this. There is still no proof that the system will actually work in space, where extreme conditions are the norm.
"Whenever you get results that have extraordinary implications, you have to be cautious and somewhat skeptical that they can be repeated before you can accept them as a new theory," says Intuitive Machines chief engineer Michael Baine. "Really, it's got to come down to peer review and getting that done before you can get any kind of acceptance that something exotic is going on here."