An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Science: The "reactionless" Electromagnetic Drive, or EmDrive for short, is an engine propelled solely by electromagnetic radiation confined in a microwave cavity. Such an engine would violate the law of conservation of momentum by generating mechanical action without exchanging matter. But since 2010, both the United States and China have been pouring serious resources into these seemingly impossible engines. And now China claims its made a key breakthrough. Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) announced on December 10, 2016 that not only has China successfully tested EmDrives technology in its laboratories, but that a proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit (according to the International Business Times, this test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station). If China is able to install EmDrives on its satellites for orbital maneuvering and altitude control, they would become cheaper and longer lasting. Li Feng, lead CAST designer for commercial satellites, states that the current EmDrive has only a thrust of single digit millinewtons, for orbital adjustment; a medium sized satellite needs 0.1-1 Newtons. A functional EmDrive would also open up new possibilities for long range Chinese interplanetary probes beyond the Asteroid belt, as well freeing up the mass taken up by fuel in manned spacecraft for other supplies and equipment to build lunar and Martian bases. On the military side of things, EmDrives could also be used to create stealthier, longer lasting Chinese surveillance satellites.
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