They said it was impossible, but China has done it. After decades of skeptical press in scientific circles, an engine has been built that actually delivers thrust from microwaves.
Of course, on Earth the amount of propulsion is easily overcome by gravity’s drag, but in frictionless space this engine is perfect – it only needs electricity, which can be harvested, almost indefinitely, from solar panels.
Now the point has been proved, as China’s unmanned probe is orbiting Mars and sending back live video. Although there is a 20 minute delay, you can watch the terrain roll by in high def on the iWeb.
This opens up a vast array of possibilities for the flagging aerospace industry and its myriad service providers.
At last trips to even more distant planets can be undertaken without the need for enormous quantities of fuel. Chinese astronauts have been training for states of suspended animation to reduce their food requirements, and are likely to be the first to set foot on Mars, despite Western space agencies’ ambitions.
NASA, forging ahead with development of its ion-propulsion rockets, was humbled by the Chinese triumph, as they had previously called the new engine an ‘improbability drive’. “It’s like a quantum engine,” said one US rocket scientist, “if you look at it too closely, it stops working altogether!”
We all recall President Obama’s stirring words 20 years ago, when he said: “We choose to go to Mars, not because it is easy, but because we can!” His hope for economic stimulus from a resurgence of technological innovation has fallen short.
China, rapidly catching the United States in economic might, has now overtaken America in the new space race.
SpaceX refused to confirm or deny that their latest research was directed at instantaneous ‘quantum foam surfing’ – dematerializing an object and transmitting it as waves to a distant receiver/assembler.
But perhaps this is the beginning of travel by relativity – where faith in reaching your destination overcomes logic.
ANALYSIS >> SYNTHESIS: How this scenario came to be
It’s all relative…
When is the impossible possible? Perhaps when disbelief is suspended. Take the bumble bee. Aerodynamic theory tells us that it is scientifically impossible for the bumble bee to fly. Fortunately, the bumble bee does not study aeronautics, and so can fly.
Take time travel. Now, there is good reason to believe that it will never be possible to go back in time. Why? Because if it ever did become possible, wouldn’t someone from the future come back to tell us?
But the same does not hold for instantaneous travel through time/space. If you consider that quantum travel might one day be a possibility, then you could conceivably be in two simultaneous universes at the same time. By merely ‘choosing’ which universe you would like to be present in, at a particular moment, you would effectively ‘travel’ instantaneously to another existence – be it wherever in the consciousness of the current universe – across the galaxy, maybe?
So if we suspend disbelief for a moment, what is to prevent future travelers from discovering the ability to access parallel universes that were always there, but inaccessible, as the relative logic was beyond our understanding?
Perhaps the improbability of a relativity drive could be the catalyst for a future quantum moving experience!
If you found this all a little difficult to believe, take another look at the dateline of this MindBullet…
1959: Interplanetary craft
The Russian space rocket Luna II reaches the moon. A few months later, Luna III passes behind the ‘dark side’ of the moon.
1969: Moon landing
Following the greatest scientific effort in history Apollo 11 lands on the moon. Some recidivists believe for decades that pictures of the astronauts standing on the moon were staged in a Hollywood studio.
1979: Space Shuttle
The second Space Shuttle to be built, Columbia, rolls out of the assembly plant and is transported to Kennedy Space Center for the first Shuttle mission.
1989: Space cowboys
Columbia performs the 28th Shuttle mission, while probes are sent to Mars. The Russian space station Mir continues to orbit earth, despite its many malfunctions.
1999: Stations and dragons
The International Space Station spends its second year of in-orbit assembly. China launches an unpiloted test flight of its manned launcher, paving the way to China’s first piloted orbital flight.
2009: New crisis, new leaders
The global financial crisis takes center stage as economies slide world-wide. Richard Branson continues to develop his space tourist operation Virgin Galactic, while SpaceX successfully launches the first privately developed rocket into orbit. Barack Obama encourages “the American people to develop new technology and explore new worlds, for the benefits it will bring to all our citizens. Yes we can!”
The Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, enter their fifth year exploring the surface of Mars.
2019: Black swans
For decades, scientists and researchers have been exploring barely credible methods to increase the speed and efficiency of interstellar travel, from electro-magnetic rocket engines to space elevators. Some even believe teleportation may someday be possible, through ‘quantum entanglement’ of light waves. Observers wait for a random discovery – a ‘black swan’ – that radically changes the status quo, to emerge.
2029: Relativity drive
China successfully launches a spacecraft with an electromagnetically driven engine. The solar panels provide power to gradually accelerate the vehicle until it is traveling at hundreds of kilometers per second, reaching Mars within weeks instead of months. Critical calculations allow the craft to be slowed and captured by Mars’s gravity and the probe orbits the red planet. The seemingly impossible has been achieved.
Will the next quantum leap in space travel approach the speed of light?