Flying an EMDrive into space
My name is Paul Kocyla, and I am a hardware engineer in Aachen/Germany.
I built a tiny satellite which fits into your pocket. It flew into orbit in 2013 and complies to a femtosatellite standard called PocketQube.
Recently, a new kind of space propulsion device ran through the media. It was called the "impossible" thruster, because it could produce thrust without expelling any propellant.
A thruster like this is of the same importance like the steam engine or internal combustion engine was many years ago. It could change our mobility on Earth and in space.
A university in China, NASA Eagleworks, a university in Germany and several independent individuals confirmed that this kind of thruster, known as the EM-Drive, produces a tiny force just from electric power.
In the last years I developed a tiny version of this thruster and tested it over several weeks, and it shows a tiny net force.
However there are claims that these forces might come from other sources like airflow, expanding cables or the interaction with Earth´s magnetic field.
The only way to finally prove it that it really works is sending it to space. Other existing EMDrives are at least one order of magnitude heavier than ours, so the costs for sending them into orbit are going to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Ours can be sent into a 700km orbit for 25000€ - including flight qualification testing. That´s the total price my former PocketQube cost including development, testing and launch.
This will be a historical moment, because it will be the first EMDrive in space. If it works, it will bring another StarTrek technology into real life.
My friend and team member Jo Hinchliffe (Concretedog) from Wales is building the PocketQube satellite chassis.
You can check out more details about this project here:
(The second link has been removed, everything will be continued on the link above)
The EMDrive is already built and running.
The plan is to finish the satellite which will carry it before the end of this year and possibly get a launch slot on the UNISAT-7 mission which is set for 2017.
You can be part of history by making this mission possible.
Visit the project links to get more information about the EMDrive and test data which we made available to the public.
If the mission is successful I hereby guarantee to make the whole project Open Source.
The satellite will have an amateur radio payload consisting of Hellschreiber-transmission and a camera sending SSTV (Slow Scan Television).
As the pretest-board didn´t output the expected power, I made a quick redesign right before the test date.
The output after a day in vacuum was around 500mW, that´s "only" 3dB less than the desired 1000mW. Not so bad for a simple 4-Layer board.
Here is the board inside the scale box.
I am not allowed to publish detailed results, but some information upfront:
The thermal drift was much bigger than the possible thrust - anyway the force is depending on the frequency and seems - I say seems because that´ s only a quick observation - to be proportional to the amplitude of the resonance peaks.
I was only able to spend two days in Dresden so the following long duration tests has been made without my presence.
Possible forces are lower than 0.1µN, it´s still not 100% to say without eliminating the thermal drift, so we have to wait until this problem is solved.
The thermal drift shows always in the same direction and disturbs the interesting signal into uncertainty. So thrust is not confirmed but also not busted yet.
From my side - the Baby EMDrive is completed, unless an affordable amplifier with a significantly higher power appears.
There is an IAC abstract from Prof. Tajmar submitted about this EMDrive with details available on the conference beeing held in September this year in Australia.
Thanx to the many interesting discussions and suggestions.
Special thanx go to Prof. Tajmar, Matthias Koessling and Marcel Weikert for making the measurements possible and also to Dave for helping to boost this project.
According an orbital test: We need to be sure of thrust first, and then we can estimate if an orbital change will be measurable.
Details will be published later as soon as the contract is signed.
I used a small fraction of your donated money to buy some measuring equipment for the EMDrive V6 version, because the tests in Dresden showed a force which was not as high as we exprected.
It´s a used power meter capable of measuring up to 26GHz. It will help a lot to configure the cavity to the desired resonance frequency.
The new cavities for the V6 will arrive hopefully before Christmas, so I´ll continue to build up the new drive soon.
The new driver is already finished - measurement data will follow soon.
The paperwork for frequency registration and space debris mitigation is in progress.
Ryan. James is right. Sure we could do a better mission planning - if we were a billion dollar government funded agency with many thousands of employees. This doesn´t mean that we didn´t make any mission planning at all. It´s easier to throw an opinion at others than throwing a piece of hardware into space, it´s easy to make people down by juding the value of what they are doing. Here´s my answer: Experimenting with the nknown is going through uncerntainties. If it´s going against your opinion, you don´t need to donate. Anyway thank you for confirming that we are at least at the border of possible detection and not completely off - that´s also what we calculated. So, enough talking - I will continue to build. Feel free to make suggestions, but not the kind of "Do something valuable with your time" or "try another project". Anyway I am curious why you spend so much time telling others what they should consider as valuable.
I would love to see this thing take off - just a quick question, have you tried methods of improving thrust by using stimulated emissions in the cavity? Here's my suggestions - try filling it with Ammonia or Hydrogen and igniting with high-voltage, the resonance inside the cavity is the same Q but there are more photons produced after several passes through the cavity, increasing overall power without having a large magnetron to lug around with it. Here's my paper - http://vixra.org/abs/1604.0024, I am glad to help build this with you - I have 20 years RF and HV power supply design experience.
Ryan, you are inferring implications that have not been made, I am certain the numbers will be crunched and and models will be made and appropriate estimates for uncertainty will be published.(The project leader is fairly good at publishing) The launch date isn't until next year, there is still much time and preparation to be done, the satellite isn't even built yet. And most the stuff you are suggesting cannot be calculated or even be properly tested until the satellite is completed. As another point, you don't even need to calculate estimates for most of this stuff, you already have the perfect reference right next to it. This PocketQube will not be launched alone, and therefore you will have at least one more PocketQube in an almost identical orbit to the test vehicle. So you can observe relative change and get a very consistent set of data. (The math could even be considered trivial at that point)
Ryan, raising the test platform to an orbit at 700km will remove a lot of the variables. The atmospheric drag while nonzero, is accurately predictable thus removing it as a variable for the most part. Also earths magnetic field, although it can effect the crafts orientation and possibly inclination, it shouldn't significantly affect any orbital maneuvers focused on orbital altitude change. For these reasons this will make for a much more sterile and accurate testing platform for the experiment, and either way we will hopefully learn something new.
Dude, glad to hear you got funding for the project, I look forward to seeing how it goes.
OMG, Thunderf00t just destroyed the EMdrive... that left me laughing like crazy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCAqDA8IfR4
I don't think I have read anything ever so condescending as Ryan has said; if you're not doing it yourself, shut the fuck up. I don't give a fuck about the money I give away. Let the monkey and typewriters thing do its work if anything; jeez.
@Tim Evison: Thanx for donating. It´s true that there is much responsibility on this project, and of course we are trying everything to make the project succeed. The sat will go through the standard flight qualification testing to make sure it will survive the launch. What happens after is a phase of observing any orbital changes. According the models, there is a thrust of 1µN to expect. One issue we need to deal with is the power dissipation of the 24GHz transmitter. We get 1.5W heat for 0.5W of power. I implemented a thermal protection procedure to keep the battery from overheating. Additionally the EMDrive is mounted a way that heat can be transfered from one side to the other when one side faces the sun - should improve the cooling.
@George: Thanx a lot. Financing the satellite is not the big ptoblem. It developed over time from my private money and a big help with machining from Jo (Concretedog). The engineering model will be most certainly available within two months :)
I've dropped a line to Gizmodo and IO9 too, as well as put this out on my social media groups. Will keep an eye on it, funding is starting to get some momentum now which is good to see. Good luck! Post us some updates as funding continues. -Xan
@Paul - That makes sense to look at it after the current project. I may experiment around with it, I am not thrilled about using Ammonia and was leaning towards Hydrogen. Let me know if you need any help with your current project - I can design and fabricate any electronics (on my dime), although looking at your surface mount PCB on the back of the EM drive it looks like you have a lot of that done.
@Michael I heard of the ammonia stimualted emission and it´s also near 24GHz, so the changes to make on the cavity would not be that big. It´s an interesting approach which is definitely worth beeing tried. But as my time is limited and I need to prepare the sat - i won´t be able to build it now, maybe after the sat project is done.
Hmm well what if you placed a thruster at each end and tried to get the hardware into a spin? Could even change the direction of the thrusters to stop the spin.
Yep, any reliable data means a successful experiment, even if it is the data you expect.(bad science, would be an experiment without clearly defined parameters or any real hypothesis)
@Brandon: Detaching things of a femtosatellite is forbidden unless you make all the paperwork for the detached part too, as it becomes a satellite itself. It must be also trackable by NORAD. A possible solution would be a satellite within a satellite -but this kind of project is too time consuming and too expensive. Our project is an experiment. So if people complain about bad science, I can only laugh, because it´s not a scientific project but rather an experiment. The purpose is to exclude earth bound parasitic effects and provide a long-term (1.-2 years) experimental platform which can accumulate possible forces over time -> changes in orbit.
I'm not to savvy about this sort of thing, but to test if there's a thrust being generated could you send this thruster up with a detachable part (detector) that could measure the distance between the 2 satellites and then turn on the thruster? If the gap widens or narrows in a predictable manner then that could mean that its generating thrust? I think the best direction to test would be forward/parallel to earth to determine its not pushing off earth because of it's magnetic field, etc Test: 1a. If the satellite can gain velocity moving forward at the same altitude along its orbit than that's good news. 2a. If it seems to gain altitude by pushing away from earth than its likely a magnetic field thing. 3a. If it does nothing then it does nothing and we can drop discussion. Conclusion: 1b. The best case scenario and further testing is needed for spacecraft. 2b. Spacecraft might be out. May work within a solar system. If the radical theories on how to make this more efficient that you can move small vehicles around with them (flying vehicles) then maybe in the future we can have flying craft that makes use of electromagnetic propulsion in low earth altitudes. Could end up being hybrid aircraft using traditional thrust with electromagnetic propulsion. The probability of this seems unlikely but will include it. 3b. Worst case scenario. Wait for next crazy idea.
David, thanx a lot. We publish every test. There is a repository with data and a viewer software on the Hackaday.io project site. There is some interesting data after the modification of the cavity with dielectric inside. On quite days when the baseline oscillation of the swimming platform was low, the implication for force was very clear - much noise in most of the data though.
Wow, these comments keep none of my nice formatting and tabs for paragraphs and such.