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NASA Engineer Has A Great Idea for a High-Speed Spacedrive. Too Bad it Violates the Laws of Physics - Universe Today

Date published: 2019-10-17
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.


When a NASA engineer announces a new and revolutionary engine that could take us to the stars, its easy to get excited. But the demons are in the details, and when you look at the actual article things look far less promising.
To begin with, the article is an outline of an idea, not peer-reviewed work. As the author David Burns points out on the last page, the basic concept is unproven, hasnt been reviewed by experts, and math errors may exist. Burns proposed helical engine would also be a reactionless drive similar to the EM-Drive, and so would violate Newtons third law of motion. It would be easy to just dismiss the work and move on, but Id like to look at the details because its an interesting (though flawed) idea.
Helical engine architecture. Credit: David Burns
Lets start with reactionless drives in general. Both this Helical Engine and the EM-Drive before it are reactionless, because unlike traditional rockets and thrusters they dont expel propellant. At their heart, all rockets are based upon Newtons third law of motion, which says for any force you apply to your rocket there must be an equal counter-force applied to something else. For a rocket, that is some kind of fuel. Throw hot gas out the back end of your rocket at high speed, and by Newtons Third Law the rocket moves forward. Easy peasy.
Close up photo of the ULA Delta IV Heavy rockets engines as it launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Credit: Glenn Davis
The problem with this is that in order to get your rocket going really fast, you have to carry a bunch of fuel with you. The Saturn V, for example, needed to burn about 20 kilograms of fuel for every 1 kilogram of payload just to reach the Moon.
Things get worse the farther you travel. If you wanted to send a probe to the nearest stars, youd need about 2,000 kilograms of fuel for every kilogram of payload, and your trip would still take 100,000 years. So its safe to say that traditional rockets wont get us to the stars.
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NASA Engineer Has A Great Idea for a High-Speed Spacedrive. Too Bad it Violates the Laws of Physics - Universe Today https://t.co/LGg2XmRqaU #Credit #Newtons #Burns pic.twitter.com/V2K2mWoi4p

— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) October 17, 2019