32 thoughts on “Approaching C?”

  1. “Impulse engine” (not really); but I believe Harold “Sonny” White derivation of the original Alcubierre warp drive required some kind of propulsion system accelerating the craft to take advantage of the “warping” effect. His (White’s) derivation reduced the amount of “exotic matter” from the mass of Jupiter (originally) to the mass of the Voyager space probe ~1800KG. In fact came across a story recently where White claims to have “accidently” created a “warp bubble”.



    1. “Yeah. Don’t hit anything much more massive than a hydrogen molecule”

      As far as the warp drive goes, believe it wouldn’t get through the warp bubble; it would be pushed around it I think. As far as the discussed Helical Engine…fire a high powered pulsed laser beam in front of the craft either pushing out of the way or ionizing any hydrogen in its path. Ionized Hydrogen could be affected by some kind of “umbrella” around the forward part of the ship protecting the enclosed area consisting of a high current capacity superconducting cables charged by the vessel reactors producing an electromagnetic field to divert the charged particles away from the craft. Biggest show stopper of course is whether the “Helical Engine” works. DARPA was also supposed to be doing some work on the actually mentioned in the posted article “EMdrive”; never heard what their results were.

      1. Of course, that was more or less the origin of the Bussard ramjet–since you had to sweep the hydrogen out of the way anyway, you may as well make some use of it.

      2. “EMDrive”: the most elementary experiment to falsify the proposition has never been done to my knowledge. And that is run it within a null magnetic field whereby the Earth’s geomagnetic field is cancelled out. Or within a mu Metal shield. Until those things are done and power source is free from EMF effects on the measurement device we are only spinning wheels.
        AFAIK when such things ARE accounted for the so-called effect disappears. Meaning it would not work in free space, other than generate infra-red radiation in a non-preferential direction. Shawyer’s explanation relies on a broken definition of special relativity and in the end defies conservation of momentum. OTOH if it is indeed generating a magnetic field outside the frustrum[1], then it could act as a magnetorquer[2]. As such it could possibly act as a maintenance propulsive system for LEO satellites. But so could a bar electromagnet with a lot less loss due to generating unneeded microwaves.

        [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EmDrive
        [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetorquer

        1. ““EMDrive”: the most elementary experiment to falsify the proposition has never been done to my knowledge. ”

          Since we are now in a reusable rocket relatively cheap micro-satellite era why not just launch a dozen or so solar powered micro-sats in low Earth orbit with the EMDrive apparatus installed? Switch them on and let’s see what happens. If Shawyer is correct the sats should spiral out from their orbits, blow past escape velocity and keep on going. They should keep accelerating as long as the photovoltaics receive sufficient solar radiation from the Sun. probably out to Mars orbit at least. Trying to shield the sats on earth from all sources of electromagnetic and natural magnetic interference is probably an exercise in futility; a skeptic will just say you missed some earth-side source of interference. The effect is vanishingly small even if it exists. I was referencing earlier a test that DARPA was supposed to be doing on EMDrive that I never heard any further about. It was a “Phase 2” of an earlier Phase one study funded until May 2021run by Mike McCulloch for DARPA:

          “DARPA Laser Version of EMDrive Has a Test Result Better Than Commercial Ion Drive
          September 21, 2020”


          1. There is always the next person to step up with another idea. More “power” to them. As for yet another null experiment via microsats, if you can find someone to fund it I say go for it. If my conjecture is true, the experiment would have to be designed so that EMDrive switches magnetic polarity at the magnetic hemisphere crossings to gain velocity and raise it’s orbit, otherwise it achieves nothing. And if the deceleration forces exceed the propulsive ones, it will eventually fall from orbit. If Shawyer is right then it would spiral out of Earth orbit and possibly solar orbit, depending upon it’s power source. If my conjecture holds then it would potentially raise its orbit to the point where the Earth’s geomagnetic fields weakens to the point where no more acceleration is achievable. And it would remain in that higher orbit until the power source is either exhausted or fails. This would be a tricky experiment to design, given the minuscule propulsive force provided vs the mass of the satellite vs the LEO environment vs the available electric power, etc. etc.

            I’m well aware of McCullough’s work, which is different from Shawyer’s but as with the latter, replication appears scant to non-extant.

            I too can provide links:


          2. “I too can provide links:”

            Well if it is more links you want:

            “The EmDrive Isn’t Dead Yet … Says the Guy Who Invented the EmDrive”


            “Now, shortly after Tajmar and his colleagues seemingly delivered their death blow to the EmDrive, the inventor of the device has offered his rebuttal.”

            “During a Q&A portion of his presentation, several APEC guests asked Shawyer about Tajmar and his team’s papers, which effectively discredited the EmDrive. Shawyer’s answer was simple: Tajmar’s cavity was shaped wrong, and it was never going to work. In fact, Shawyer even warned Tajmar about that as early as 2017.
            “The NASA cavity, which is the basis for Martin [Tajmar]’s work and at least three other organizations’ work is fatally flawed,” Shawyer said. “It’s a flat endplate cavity for a start. If you do the simple geometry, you’ll see that you’ve got a wavefront phase error approaching half a wavelength. You’re never going to get traveling waves in a flat front cavity. There are many other problems he has.”

          3. Shawyer has a well documented history of shifting the goal posts and saying everything is proprietary. Classic hallmarks of pathological science. If it’s as good as HE claims he should have secured international patents and THEN be fully willing to provide all design details AS DISCLOSED IN THE PATENT(S) and stand behind the work of those building the test satellite. But based on his past history *I’M* certain he won’t. With him it’s always some key detail he only brings up after the fail.

          4. “Shawyer has a well documented history of shifting the goal posts and saying everything is proprietary.”

            I was actually just as if not more interested in what the results were for Mike McCulloch’s Phase 2 study on EMDrive for DARPA; unfortunately my posted link is dated before the May 2021 funding deadline. Would like to know what he got in his tests; null or otherwise, and whether he followed Shawyer’s recommendations on apparatus setup.

        2. “I was actually just as if not more interested in what the results were for Mike McCulloch’s Phase 2 study on EMDrive for DARPA;”

          Found this for anyone besides me who still cares:

          question: ” Mike McCullough are you at liberty to say what the results were of your Phase 2 EmDrive study funded by DARPA are? Can we expect (hopefully) a “Phase 3″ maybe with finally some kind of in-orbit testing involving the device installed in a micro-sat(s)?”

          answer: “Mike McCulloch said…
          Yes. The results are difficult to get out – journals are now refusing my papers. The results from the Dresden lab were negative, from the Spanish Lab positive, but with qualifications (I’m a bit sceptical). The results from capacitor tests in California and Virginia that I did not fund but helped with, have been successful and I think I now know why there is a difference. Electrons are a better acceleratand to use than photons. I thank all these labs for helping me see that. A space test has been discussed – that’s all I can say at the moment.”


    2. Like your Icon “Flight-ER-Doc”; It is if my memory serves me a picture of “Steve Canyon”, is it not ? Loved that comic strip as a wee lad!

        1. Musing about the need to be “type rated” for an airplane (even if the FAA doesn’t require this, the insurance company will require training in a single-engine plane that is new to you) and how one can just hop into the driver’s seat of a car.

          Having rented a car last summer, I am wondering if a person needs to be “type rated” on an automobile? The plethora of pushbuttons on a car involve learning a new computer user interface.

          1. I faced that challenge when renting a Ford Escape last month. I had to go back to the rental counter to find out how to start it (the start button is “cleverly” hidden behind a stalk on the steering column).

          2. My 2018 Subaru has a little computer screen, and most of the physical push buttons are on the steering wheel. Funnily enough, those are the only ones I know how to use. I leave the dashboard screen on because I like the way it looks.

  2. The problem with this idea is e=mc2.

    You have fast particles in front, you drag them to the back.

    You slow down the particles, store the energy in a big battery.

    You move the battery and slow particles to the front.

    You use the battery to speed up the particles.

    Even if you assume the battery to be massless (a photon beam, for example), because of e=mc2 the mass of the battery plus ions stays constant the entire time.

    The only way around that is to dump the energy out the back of the vehicle. And now you simply have a photon rocket, which is known to work but doesn’t provide meaningful thrust.

    1. If I have this figured out, a photonic rocket would generate a thrust of F = P/c, where P is the power of the beam (oriented in the opposite direction to the thrust) and c is the speed of light 3*10^8 m/s. In order to get a force of 1 N, you would need power of 300 MW, which is rather close to the claimed thrust ratio of the above engine.

      1. So this new engine isn’t a complete fraud; it is simply a version of a photon drive?

        E=m c^2, bay-bee!

    2. Bingo. I’m recalling a debate with a net-kook way back in the days of usenet who was making a similar error in a claim about antimatter fueled rockets.

  3. Can we get one of these harebrained schemes to demonstrate the tiniest bit of thrust before we print all the breathless articles about 99% the speed of light, or to Mars in X time, or whatever? Please?

    1. You mean like all the hoopla about the EM drive, which turned out to be a result of a poorly done experiment that overlooked magnetic effects?

      This article reminds me of those in more ways than one, and does itself little help by using a picture of the aforementioned EM drive, claiming it to be a picture of the “helical” drive. While this does not demonstrate anything regarding whether said drive will work, it does demonstrate that the creators of the article don’t know what “helical” means. 🙂

  4. Well if had star traveling technology and it was expensive, would we use it?
    We are delaying exploring the Moon, and it is not even too expensive.
    Why is FAA delaying the Starship launch?
    It seems FAA *needs* to give a good reason.
    SpaceX doesn’t need to give a reason, but FAA does.
    Also, I think Space Force is missing in action.
    And NASA going to delay sending crew to the Moon, because
    they can’t make a spacesuit??
    I think Martian might work on things that get us to the Stars,
    but let’s make some Martians, first.

  5. Even in the unlikely even there’s not an error in the calculations, if I understand correctly it’s only about twice as efficient energy-wise as a photon drive (that is is, shining a light out th back of your rocket). Good luck getting anywhere with that.

  6. “Why is FAA delaying the Starship launch?”

    Because SLS has to fly first. All political. All government agencies are corrupt. FSS the Boca Chica launch site is a salt water marsh, the sort of thing you’d have got a medal for filling in 60 years ago.

    1. The level of Musk hate has been rising across the Internet, with a lot of FUD comparing him to other, more predatory billionnaires. The other day I was talking with someone who was griping about Maezawa having “too much money.” I repeated Maezawa’s comment, “I wasn’t born with this money; I worked hard for it.” It didn’t make any difference. I remembered a friend who griped, “High paying jobs are no harder than low paying jobs!” and in discussionm found out he didn’t have clue what I did for a living.

      1. “High paying jobs are no harder than low paying jobs!”


        I’ve never even had a high-paying job and I know better than that.

        The best response I can think of to anyne aying such a thing is, “Then why don’t you have a high-paying job?”

        I’m sure the answer will be something along the lines of, “The man is keeping me down.”

        1. I have a better answer than any other (to the inevitable, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”): Because I’m a lazy, pussy-obsessed asshole. In reality I stepped from janitor to computer programmer via a hobby. Mostly I was a mechanic before I bought that VIC-20, but had a digression to janitor for a short time, thanks to my first divorce. Elon did much the same, but he was 12 when the VIC came along, and I was 32. I also wasted a lot of time writing books and stories, which made me feel good about myself, but didn’t make much money.

          1. Well, you can find high paying jobs that aren’t more difficult than low paying jobs. Those tend to not happen that much when you have a reasonably free market though. Only large monopolies and the government can afford to higher people to do very little for large sums of money.

  7. How is this any better than just a plain ol’ ion drive? Since ions are the transfer media of propulsion here, just like in an ion drive. And what ‘de-massifies’ the ions “in the loop” for the next round of ‘relativistic change of mass’? Loop? Change of mass? Conservation of momentum? Not worked out the maths indeed… If you have a massive power source, like a nuclear electric reactor, why couldn’t you build a starship out of a normal ion drive which inherently expends minimal propellant with no violation of conservation of momentum and no positive feedback perpetual motion and accelerates for as long as the nuke can run and speed goes, up and up and up and up…..

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