An Egyptian teenager may be about to change space technology. Aisha Mustafa’s next-generation quantum-based propulsion system could allow humans to reach other solar systems without using a single drop of fuel.
The innovative system works on the principle that space is not a vacuum. Instead, it is filled with a roiling sea of particles and anti-matter particles that are created and then destroy themselves in a blink of an eye.
Mustafa proposes that this quantum effect can be harnessed via the dynamic Casimir effect by utilizing a ‘moving mirror’ cavity, where two reflective flat plates are held close together and then manipulated in order to interact with the quantum particles. By moving the silicon plates, energy is created out of nothing and a net force is created which would be used to push, pull or propel a spacecraft.
In terms of energy usage, it is most like solar power in how the energy is used, and is much more efficient than the rocket fuel that is currently used to power spacecrafts. Current rockets, like the Dragon X, are tricky to control due to the energetic thrusters, and even NASA’s futuristic proposals such as ion drives still need power – even the USS Enterprise needed dilithium crystals. That is what makes young Mustafa’s system all the more amazing, it doesn’t need fuel and provides astronauts with much greater control of their spacecraft.