NASA worked on the EmDrive (Electromagnetic Drive) for a long time, but it seems China went further, managing to carry tests of the drive, which were successful.
CNSA (China National Space Administration) confirmed that it has been funding the controversial propulsion technology for years and that successful tests have been carried aboard Tiangong-2, the Chinese space station. If the claims are true, NASA is left behind, since it still hasn’t conducted EmDrive tests in space.
EmDrive is controversial because it uses microwaves which are emitted inside of a cone-shape engine. Microwaves make the engine to move forward, acting like a propulsion system, although the drive clash with some Newton’s laws. Further, the technology doesn’t need any kind of rocket fuel, and it can potentially make space travel much faster.
For instance, the journey to Mars could be done in just one month, while the hypothetic space craft could reach Pluto in just 18 months (for comparison, New Horizons space probe traveled to Pluto for nine and a half years).
A press conference held by CAST (China Academy of Space Technology), a subsidiary of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CAST), recently in Beijing where Dr. Chen Yue, head of the communication satellite division at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) stated that “National research institutions in recent years have carried out a series of long-term, repeated tests on the EM Drive. NASA’s published test results can be said to re-confirm the technology,” and that “We have successfully developed several specifications of multiple prototype principles. The establishment of an experimental verification platform to complete the milli-level micro thrust measurement test, as well as several years of repeated experiments and investigations into corresponding interference factors, confirm that in this type of thrusters, thrust exists.”
China claims that the EmDrive research begun five years ago, but there is no evidence supporting the claims of successful tests in the form of paperwork, according to Science Alert.