NASA engineer's 'helical engine' may violate the laws of physics

One NASA engineer believes he could take us to the stars without any propellant at all, writes Jon Cartwright for NewScientist.com.

Science may be catching up to science fiction as NASA engineer David Burns has released a paper demonstrating how his helical engine design can drive spacecraft to nearly the speed of light.
Science may be catching up to science fiction as NASA engineer David Burns has released a paper demonstrating how his helical engine design can drive spacecraft to nearly the speed of light.
Pixabay

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., - For every action, there is a reaction: that is the principle on which all space rockets operate, blasting propellant in one direction to travel in the other. But one NASA engineer believes he could take us to the stars without any propellant at all. Designed by David Burns at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, the “helical engine” exploits mass-altering effects known to occur at near-light speed. Burns has posted a paper describing the concept to NASA’s technical reports server, writes Jon Cartwright for NewScientist.com. Read more: Continue reading original article

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

October 14, 2019-David Burns' "helical engine" is a novel one. By utilizing Einstein's theory of special relativity, which states that objects gain mass as they approach the speed of light, Burns' design could cause forward motion without traditional propellants by having "action" exceed "reaction" in a frictionless environment due to approaching light speed.

“I’m comfortable with throwing it out there,” Burns says to The New Scientist. “If someone says it doesn’t work, I’ll be the first to say, it was worth a shot...“I know that it risks being right up there with the EM drive and cold fusion. But you have to be prepared to be embarrassed. It is very difficult to invent something that is new under the sun and actually works.”

Related: Electricity drawn from Americium, which could prove useful as a power source for a 'space battery'

Related: NASA eyes space exploration smallsat and on-board instruments to explore atmospheres of gas giant planets

Related: Virgin Galactic to go public with its human space flight venture

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

More in SATCOM