Helical engine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Helical engine is a proposed spacecraft propulsion drive that, like other reactionless drives, would violate the laws of physics.[1][2][3]

The concept was proposed by David M. Burns, formerly a NASA engineer at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, in a non-peer-reviewed report published on a NASA server in 2019 describing it as "A new concept for in-space propulsion is proposed in which propellant is not ejected from the engine, but instead is captured to create a nearly infinite specific impulse".[4]

The Helical engine accelerates ions that are confined in a locked loop. Once they are accelerated, the system changes the velocity of the ions in order to change their momentum. Afterward, Burns hypothesized that the engine, by moving the ions along its axis, could produce thrust. The proposed engine is mainly intended to be used to maintain the orbit of satellite stations during long periods of time without the need of refueling.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Siegel, Ethan. "For The Last Time, No, A NASA Engineer Has Not Broken Physics With An Impossible Engine". Forbes. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  2. ^ Cartwright, Jon. "NASA engineer's 'helical engine' may violate the laws of physics". New Scientist. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  3. ^ Koberlein, Brian (2019-10-16). "NASA Engineer Has A Great Idea for a High-Speed Spacedrive. Too Bad it Violates the Laws of Physics". Universe Today. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  4. ^ "NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)" (PDF). ntrs.nasa.gov. 19 August 2019. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  5. ^ Burns, David M. (2019-08-16), "Helical Engine", AIAA Propulsion and Energy 2019 Forum, AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, doi:10.2514/6.2019-4395, ISBN 978-1-62410-590-6, S2CID 242520152, retrieved 2021-03-01
  6. ^ Leman, Jennifer (2019-10-11). "A NASA Engineer Wants to Use a Particle Accelerator to Power Rockets". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 2021-03-02.