When a scientist announced last decade that he’d built a new form of spacecraft propulsion called the EmDrive that didn’t require conventional fuel, it sounded too good to be true. But the great thing about science is that you don’t have to take someone’s findings at their word; you can test it for yourself. NASA did just that—and while the space agency hasn’t officially released its findings yet, a leaked copy of NASA’s report reveals the EmDrive seems to work as advertised.
The EmDrive, which was demonstrated in 2006 by scientist Roger Shawyer, works by bouncing around microwave radiation within a cone-shaped piece of metal, known as a resonant cavity. Those photons zipping around inside the cavity, in turn, forces the cavity forward—along with anything else attached to it, like a spaceship—as the microwave energy bounces out the wide end.
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