Physicists around the world have long denounced the idea as ‘impossible,’ but one firm has now revealed its plans to send the first reactionless space drive into orbit.
Cannae Inc. claims it has demonstrated prototypes of a system that does not require on-board propellant to generate thrust, and according to the firm, this will be used to launch a demo cubesat into low-Earth orbit in an upcoming mission.
It’s been argued that this concept violates the laws of thermodynamics, and if such demonstrations prove to be successful, it could have major implications for our current understanding of physics.
Similar to the hypothetical EmDrive, the Cannae Drive is a closed system that generates thrust with no exhaust, Popular Mechanics explains.
And, it’s been claimed that this technology would be capable of getting to Mars in just ten weeks.
Cannae’s system relies on Lorentz – electromagnetic – force created from the thrusters to generate propulsion.
The technology was invented by Guido Fetta, and on August 17, the firm revealed it will soon be put to the test of space.
Cannae has formed a new sister company called Theseus Space Inc. to kick off the mission, with plans to use a 6U cubesat, roughly the size of a shoebox, to demonstrate the thruster.
‘Theseus is going to be launching a demo cubesat which will use Cannae thruster technology to maintain an orbit below a 150 mile altitude,’ the firm says.
‘This cubesat will maintain its extreme LEO altitude for a minimum duration of 6 months. The primary mission objective is to demonstrate our thruster technology on orbit.
‘Secondary objectives for this mission include orbital altitude and inclination changes performed by the Cannae-thruster technology.’
If this type of system is found to be successful, in contrast to widespread belief, it could revolutionize the satellite business, Popular Mechanics points out.
Propellants make up much of a satellite’s weight and can be a limiting factor in their performance.
But if it works, the Cannae Drive could be a game-changer.
‘Cannae’s thruster technology is capable of generating thrust from a few uN up through several newton thrust levels and higher levels,’ the firm says.
‘The Cannae thruster technology is particularly useful for small satellite missions due to low power, mass and volume requirements.
‘Our thruster configuration for the cubesat mission with Theseus is anticipated to required less than 1.5 U volume and will use less than 10 watts of power to perform station keeping thrusting.’
The firm has yet to announce the date for this mission, and is faced with competition from other innovators looking to build similar systems.
Last month, it was claimed that a Nasa paper on the technology had been accepted for peer review.
But until these systems really prove their capabilities, physicists still largely remain skeptical.