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The Nassikas Superconducting Levitation Thruster

Editor's note: Dr. Paul LaViolette's new project, the Nassikas Thruster, is a self perpetuating propulsion device which uses superconductive material to draw upon an inexhaustible source of free energy, to propel itself faster than any known device in modern times. The Nassikas Thruster has the potential to not only revolutionize space travel, but also to provide technological advances such as hover boards, hovering cars, vertical take off and landing aircraft that can travel from one end of the earth to the other in under an hour, not to mention produce free electricity for use in any application.


In February 2010, at the Space, Propulsion & Energy Sciences International Forum (SPESIF) hosted by the American Institute of Physics, Dr. Athanassios Nassikas of the Technological Educational Institute of Thessaly in Larissa, Greece began sharing with other scientists an unusual reaction-less propulsion phenomenon he had discovered.

He found that by casting a high temperature superconductor such as YBCO (Yttrium Barium Copper Oxide) in the form of a conical nozzle and placing a neodymium permanent magnet within its throat, he was able to produce a small axial propulsive force on the YBCO casting. He received a U.S. patent on this version last year (US 8,952,773). This propulsion effect stems from the peculiar magnetic properties of superconductors. That is, when a superconductor is cooled below its critical temperature (for example, by immersing it in liquid nitrogen), it begins to impede external magnetic fields from entering its interior.  That is, “super currents” are generated within the superconductor which produce a mirror field that repulsively opposes any external magnetic fields.  

This repulsive force has been called the Meissner effect force. This is what levitates a high speed maglev train above its track. But in standard maglev, the superconductor is attached to the bottom of the train and the magnet that repels it is attached to the ground. This necessitates the placement of a large number of magnets along the train's track in order to keep the train afloat as it moves forward.


But now suppose there were a way to produce a propulsive force on a superconductor when the magnet was attached to the superconductor instead of to the ground. Then, as the Meissner effect force repelled the superconductor forward, the magnet would move forward right along with it, allowing a sustained repulsive force that would cause the superconductor to freely accelerate and essentially forge its on course.  This is essentially what Dr. Nassikas has managed to accomplish.  

We have heard the term "picking oneself up by one's own bootstraps" in the context of businesses getting themselves off the ground on their own. Well, essentially here the concept is being applied to the field of physics, which is enough to send shivers running up and down the spine of any dyed in the wool conservative physicist. Indeed, the Nassikas thruster-I, as it is called, appears to break two laws of physics, Newton's third law, the idea that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and the First Law of Thermodynamics, the belief that energy should be perfectly conserved.  Instead, the Nassikas thruster is producing action, with no reaction.  That is, it is able to move forward without ejecting any propellant in the reverse direction.  Other thrusters are known to do this, and they are generally called reaction-less thrusters, or propellent-less thrusters.  Examples include inertial propulsion engines such as the control moment gyroscopes used to orient the Space Telescope and International Space Station, or the EMDrive, a microwave resonant cavity that NASA is currently testing to determine its effectiveness for propelling spacecraft in deep space missions.  Another example that some may have heard of are the asymmetrical capacitor thrusters invented by T. Townsend Brown that were developed in the mid 1950s for military use.  So the Nassikas thruster is not alone in this respect. 

Since permanent magnets need no power to sustain their magnetic field, the Nassikas thruster-I obviously needs no power input to create its force other than whatever is needed to cool its thruster to liquid nitrogen temperatures, 77 degrees Kelvin temperature.  But in space, the temperature can fall as low as 40 degrees  Kelvin temperature behind a sunshield, and lower as one travels further from the Sun.  So no energy need be expended even for cooling.  Theoretically, if placed in space, the thruster should be able to continuously accelerate, making trips to nearby stars a real possibility.  This ability to produce work -- propulsion -- with no energy input, obviously will leave many physicists scratching their heads wondering where does the power come from.  

Dr. Nassikas maintains that the power comes from quantum space-time itself, that is, the energy source in quantum space-time that is hidden from our direct perception, but nevertheless may be theorized to exist. In effect, the Nassikas thruster taps into the quantum prime mover that exists throughout the material vacuum of space.  Nikola Tesla would have referred to this as “harnessing the wheelwork of Nature.” 

Dr. Nassikas has applied the principles of logic to physics theory analysis to develop what he calls minimum contradictions physics. This leads to an approach to formulating an elegant theoretical physics that has a minimum number of internal contradictions, and this leads to a concept of space-time which holds that matter, such as that making up the bulk superconductor, is linked with its space-time ambient which itself may be theorized to contain a store of energy which can be drawn from.  

The bottom line is that in applying the First Law in the case of superconductors, one should not draw the box only to include visible energy sources, but also those that are invisible, lurking within space-time itself.  I have another way of describing this energy conservation phenomenon using the subquantum kinetics physics methodology which essentially comes to the same conclusions as Dr. Nassikas has reached. 

Dr. Nassikas has built several of these YBCO thrusters and conducted pendulum tests to measure the force they produce. The superconductor with its attached magnet is suspended at the end of a nylon line and when cooled below its critical temperature is observed to produce a lateral force that causes its pendulum to deviate from a plumb position.  


He has conducted this pendulum test:

a) with the superconductor immersed in a liquid nitrogen bath
b) with the superconductor and its liquid nitrogen filled dewar suspended as a pendulum
c) with the pre-cooled superconductor suspended by itself in air.


Some videos of these tests may be seen on YouTube. These tests have been performed in front of five Athens University physicists and also have been viewed by two Cambridge University physicists, one of whom is a Nobel Laureate.  All agreed that the thruster develops a small propulsive force which causes the pendulum to swing off plumb. While the measured force is small, only about 2.2 grams (or 21 milli Newtons), the thruster weight is also quite small, just 118 grams (liquid nitrogen reservoir excluded).  So, if shielded from the Sun and left free in space it should accelerate with 1.9% g.  

Also even though this thrust seems small, just five of these prototype thrusters we tested would together produce more thrust than the NSTAR xenon ion thruster that NASA used to propel the Dawn spacecraft to Ceres.  Moreover we were surprised to find that the thrust-to-mass ratio of the Nassikas thruster-I is 1000 times greater. The disadvantage of the NSTAR thruster is that it must take half a ton of xenon on its trip to use as propellant, add to this the thruster's weight which is around 30 kg, and even more for the weight of the solar cells, power handling units, and associated support structures.  

Five Nassikas thrusters on the other hand would weigh just 600 grams. Consequently, using the Nassikas thruster-I device, the total weight of the Dawn spacecraft could be dramatically reduced from its current 1.2 tons down to perhaps 35 kilograms.  Hence with this greatly reduced weight the spacecraft could be made to accelerate 35 times faster so that instead of taking 7.5 years to reach Ceres, as in the Dawn mission, the trip could be made in just one month! Also the lower temperatures that prevail in space, we predict that the Nassikas thruster should develop far more thrust, maybe tenfold more, than what we measured at liquid nitrogen temperatures.  So perhaps the trip could actually be made in just one week. 

Incidentally, the Nassikas thruster-I also outdoes the EMDrive reaction-less thruster that NASA is currently investigating, having a ten fold greater thrust-to-mass ratio. Also while the EMDrive requires 1 kilowatt of power to produce every 30 grams (0.3 Newtons) of propulsion force, the Nassikas thruster has no power requirement. 


What about traveling to the nearest star,Proxima Centauri?

At the temperatures prevailing in interstellar space, which approach liquid helium temperatures, suppose that a 120 gram thruster is able to develop 20 grams of thrust. Then 50 of these thrusters would produce 1 kilogram of thrust and would themselves weigh only 6 kilograms.  If the probe were designed to weigh 34 kilograms, this gives a total mass of 40 kilograms.  Hence our craft would be able to accelerate at the rate of 25 cm/s2, which means that it would reach a speed of 24% of the speed of light in just 9.2 years at midcourse.  Then the probe would be turned around to decelerate for another 9.2 years until it reached its destination after a little over 18 years.  Adding on another 4.4 years for signals to be sent back to Earth means that we could get our close up shots and data within 23 years of our initial launch date.  

Compare this to the solar sail thruster that NASA considered some time back, that would require 18,000 years to reach its destination, and you see that the Nassikas thruster has a considerable advantage. We theorize that the Nasikas thruster develops its propulsive force because its magnet produces unbalanced Meissner forces on the YBCO nozzle. The magnetic field from the attached permanent magnet surrounds the nozzle producing Meissner effect forces both on the surface within the nozzle throat as well as on the nozzle’s exterior surface.  Because the magnet’s lines of flux are more concentrated in the nozzle throat, the outward directed forces dF 1 pushing against the nozzle's interior surface will be much greater than the inward directed forces dF 2 pushing against the nozzle’s exterior surface. Hence these forces are unbalanced, dF 1 >> dF 2.  As a result, when all these opposing force components are accounted for, it is found that a net resultant force remains which is directed toward the nozzle’s narrow end.  It turns out that this resultant force is able to displace the nozzle as a whole.  This is not a stress force acting within the superconductor; it is a true propulsive force. In other words, although the permanent magnet is the generator of this magnetic field, the magnetic field itself is not rigidly attached to the magnet's physical structure; it resides in the space (or ether) around the magnet and superconductor and is able to act in a manner free of the magnet.  

As a result, the net Meissner effect force it produces on the superconductor is able to propel the superconductor relative to its instantaneous inertial frame. As the superconductor moves forward, so does the attached magnet and the Meissner-effect-generating magnetic field.  So, if kept in its superconducting state and left free in space, the thruster should accelerate indefinitely.


The Nassikas Superconducting Thruster Version II

Dr. Nassikas has come up with another superconductor thruster idea that should be able to produce 30,000 to a million times more thrust than his version-I thruster. The implications of this new thruster invention are mind boggling.  To distinguish it from his earlier version, he refers to it as the Nassikas thruster II.

The Nassikas thruster-II is basically a superconducting coil that has a slight taper so that it has the form of a frustrated cone, rather than a cylinder. The coil is wound from high temperature superconducting tape such as REBCO CC (conductor coated) tape.  When energized with an electrical current from an energizer, a very high amperage current begins to flow in the coil windings and this generates a strong magnetic field oriented essentially along the coil’s axis and in the plane of its windings.  The superconducting layer in the REBCO CC tape windings is very thin, on the order of 1 micron.  Hence the magnetic field will penetrate this layer and will interact with the high current flowing there.  This interaction produces a very strong force called a Lorentz force, which is oriented at right angles to both the direction of the current and the direction of the magnetic field.

This Lorentz force phenomenon is very standard physics, something that any physicist or electrical engineer will agree exists.  Also it is something that designers of superconducting coils are very wary of because if this outward pushing force is too strong it can rip the coil apart. Superconducting coils are normally wound as cylinders; hence their Lorentz forces necessarily push radially outward on the sides of the coil.  Since the forces on opposite sides of the coil oppose one another, the result is only to produce a stress on the coil that attempts to radially expand it, but which is counteracted by the tensile strength of the coil’s windings.  This is something known by all engineers who wind superconducting coils.  However, in the case of the Nassikas thruster, the coil is conical rather than cylindrical.  Hence there is a Lorentz thrust component resultant directed along the axis of the coil in its vertical direction toward the coil’s narrow end.  Because there is no opposing force to counterbalance this force, the coil should develop a net thrust that should propel it upward.  This should not manifest merely as a static stress in the coil itself, but should be capable of actually levitating the coil. 

We currently have plans to build and test a prototype coil, and to raise money for the project we are currently running a crowdfunding campaign on the IndieGoGo website. 

The test coil we intend to make will have an outside diameter of 16 centimeters and a taper of 3 degrees. Since the purpose is only to demonstrate the coil’s ability to produce a propulsive thrust, we are designing it with fewer windings than would be used in a marketable version. Computer calculations performed by our prospective coil manufacturer show that at liquid nitrogen temperatures, with a current density of 70 amperes per square millimeter flowing in the coil windings, our test coil should produce a magnetic field in the vicinity of the coil windings having an intensity of about 0.3 Tesla.

While this is not an overly strong magnetic field, still the Lorentz force equations indicate that this low-thrust test prototype should generate a residual propulsive force of 66 kilograms at liquid nitrogen temperatures. The coil together with its glass dewar flask filled with liquid nitrogen should weigh about 5 kilograms.  Hence we expect our test coil should produce a levitation force 13.6 times greater than its weight!  In other words, a group of these thrusters could easily lift a vehicle off the ground.  

This thrust-to-weight ratio is about 9 times that of the Space Shuttle main engine!

A more practical production version should be capable of generating thrusts even 20 times greater at liquid nitrogen temperatures. At liquid helium temperatures, we estimate this test coil should generate even greater thrusts. Remember the above calculations are based on standard physics (the cross product of current and magnetic flux density).  So even if our test shows that these computer model calculations have been overly optimistic even by a factor of ten, it should still be possible to produce more powerful versions that still have the capability of levitating a heavy payload.  

We plan to first measure the force developed when the coil is immersed in liquid nitrogen (77 degrees Kelvin temperature) using a light weight dewar. Then, if the liquid nitrogen test is successful, we plan to conduct a similar test with the coil immersed in a larger liquid helium dewar (4 degrees Kelvin temperature).  As mentioned above, the expected propulsion force in this case should be far greater. 


The Nassikas thruster-II technology, could make the following possible: 


- Cars that could take off vertically and fly through the air.
- Cruise ships that could levitate as in the movie The Fifth Element.
- Space shuttles that could lift off the Earth without the help of rockets.
- Shuttles that could fly to Mars in 5 days, not 9 months as NASA currently has in mind.
- Ships that could attain near light speed velocities and travel to the nearest star system (example:Proxima Centauri) in 4.5 years.
- Scooters that could not only move forward, but hover and fly above the ground.
- A “hoverboard” something like that depicted in the movie Back to the Future which the movie predicted would be in common circulation in the year 2015.
-Lorentz thruster motors that would produce shaft torque for generating electricity.


This technology would be essentially pollution-less requiring only the production of a small quantity of liquid nitrogen or liquid helium to make it work. Hence its carbon footprint would be virtually insignificant compared to the petrol guzzling technologies currently in use.  Historically, social advances have been brought about by technologies that either have improved transportation (moved people or goods more efficiently from one place to another) or improved on energy production.  This technology should do both.  If it works as expected, it would bring untold prosperity to the world. Some may be thinking that this all sounds too good to be true, maybe even crazy.  It does require that we change some of our concepts about what we think is possible.  Remember that many thought that the Wright brothers were dreamers until their air flight at Kitty Hawk proved they were right!

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