NASA's 'Impossible' Space Engine Tested—Here Are the Results

The first independent tests of the EmDrive suggest there's a mundane explanation for the wildly controversial device.

Spaceflight is hard. Blasting heavy cargo, spacecraft, and maybe people to respectable speeds over interplanetary distances (not to mention the luxury of stopping at destinations) requires an amount of propellant too massive for current rockets to haul into the void.

That is, unless you have an engine that can generate thrust without fuel.

It sounds impossible, but scientists at NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories have been building and testing just such a thing. Called an EmDrive, the physics-defying contraption ostensibly produces thrust simply by bouncing microwaves around inside a closed, cone-shaped cavity, no fuel required.

It would be a bit like Han Solo flying the Millennium Falcon just by head-butting the dashboard, and if you think that sounds controversial, you’re right.

The device

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