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The SpaceDrive Project-Developing Revolutionary Propulsion at TU Dresden

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Propellantless propulsion is believed to be the best option for interstellar travel. However, photon rockets or solar sails have thrusts so low that maybe only nano-scaled spacecraft may reach the next star within our lifetime using very high-power laser beams. Since 2012, a dedicated breakthrough propulsion physics group was founded at the Institute of Aerospace Engineering at TU Dresden to investigate different concepts based on non-classical/revolutionary propulsion ideas that claim to be at least an order of magnitude more efficient in producing thrust compared to photon rockets. Most of these schemes rely on modifying the inertial mass, which in turn could lead to a new propellantless propulsion method. Our intention is to develop an excellent research infrastructure to test new ideas and measure thrusts and/or artefacts with high confidence to determine if a concept works and if it does how to scale it up. At present, we are focusing on two possible revolutionary concepts: The EMDrive and the Mach-Effect Thruster. The first concept uses microwaves in a truncated cone-shaped cavity that is claimed to produce thrust. Although it is not clear on which theoretical basis this can work, several experimental tests have been reported in the literature, which warrants a closer examination. We are building several models of different sizes to understand scaling laws and the interaction with the test environment. The second concept is theoretically much better understood and is believed to generate mass fluctuations in a piezo-crystal stack that creates non-zero time-averaged thrusts. Apart from theoretical models, we are testing and building several such thrusters in novel setups to further investigate their thrust capability. In addition, we are performing side-experiments to investigate other experimental areas that may be promising for revolutionary propulsion. To improve our testing capabilities, several cutting-edge thrust balances are under development to compare thrust measurements in different measurement setups to gain confidence and to identify experimental artefacts.
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... At the Institute of Aerospace Engineering at TU Dresden thorough investigations of these concepts lead to the development of advanced testing facilities. With a precise torsional balance thrusts in the range of µN have been observed for the EMDrive, that could be subject to false measurements due to interactions with earths' magnetic field 6,7 . ...
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The Mach-Effect thruster is a propellantless propulsion concept that has been in development by J.F. Woodward for more than two decades. It consists of a piezo stack that produces mass fluctuations, which in turn can lead to net time-averaged thrusts. So far, thrust predictions had to use an efficiency factor to explain some two orders of magnitude discrepancy between model and observations. Here, a detailed 1D analytical model is presented that takes piezo material parameters and geometry dimensions into account leading to correct thrust predictions in line with experimental measurements. Scaling laws can now be derived to improve thrust range and efficiency. An important difference in this study is that only the mechanical power developed by the piezo stack is considered to be responsible for the mass fluctuations, whereas prior works focused on the electrical energy into the system. This may explain why some previous designs did not work as expected. The good match between this new mathematical formulation and experiments should boost confidence in the Mach effect thruster concept to stimulate further developments.
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Truncated cone-shaped cavities with microwaves resonating within them (emdrives) move slightly towards their narrow ends, in contradiction to standard physics. This eect can be predicted by a model called quantised inertia (MiHsC) which assumes that the inertia of the microwaves is caused by Unruh radiation, more of which is allowed at the wide end. Therefore, photons going towards the wide end gain inertia, and to conserve momentum the cavity must move towards its narrow end, as observed. A previous analysis with quantised inertia predicted a controversial photon acceleration, which is shown here to be unnecessary. The previous analysis also mis-predicted the thrust in those emdrives with dielectrics. It is shown here that having a dielectric at one end of the cavity is equivalent to widening the cavity at that end, and when dielectrics are considered then quantised inertia predicts these results as well as the others. As a test, quantised inertia predicts that an emdrive's thrust can be enhanced by using a dielectric at the wide end.
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Introduction.-Propulsion Fundamentals: History Propulsion Fundamentals Trajectory and Orbits Classification of Propulsion Systems.- Chemical Propulsion Systems: Thermodynamic Characterization Chemical Propulsion Overview Nozzle Design -Atmospheric Flight Advanced Propellants Alternative Designs Reusable Launch Vehicles.- Launch Assist Technologies: Reduction of Required Du Advanced Drag Reduction Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) Propulsion MHD Energy Bypass Application.- Nuclear Propulsion Systems: Overview Fission Propulsion Radioisotope Nuclear Rocket Fusion Propulsion Antimatter Propulsion.- Electric Propulsion Systems: Electrothermal Electrostatic Electromagnetic Induced Spacecraft Interactions.- Micropropulsion: Chemical Propulsion Electric Propulsion.- Propellantless Propulsion: Tethers Propellantless Electric/Nuclear Propulsion Photon Rocket Beamed Energy Earth-to-Orbit Propulsion Solar Sails Magnetic Sails.- Breakthrough Propulsion: Current Fundamental Limitations in Propulsion Quantum Physics, Relativity Theory, Electromagnetism and Space Propulsion Experiments Leading to Possible Breakthroughs When Will We Revolutionize Space Travel?.- Further Reading.- Subject Index
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