Shawyer says that his company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd., has successfully tested experimental versions of the thruster. But many scientists have dismissed or downplayed such claims, saying the propulsion system violates the law of conservation of momentum, Wired UK reported.
In 2012, however, a team of Chinese researchers built their own version of the system and found that it does indeed work, generating enough thrust to potentially power a satellite. Then, an American scientist named Guido Fetta constructed his own device, which he calls the "Cannae Drive," and convinced the NASA team - which included warp drive researcher Sonny White - to try it out, which they did over the course of eight days in August 2013.
The NASA scientists determined that the Cannae Drive produces 30 to 50 micronewtons of thrust - less than 0.1 percent of that measured by the Chinese team, Wired UK noted, but nevertheless suggesting that the technology works.
The thruster may work by somehow harnessing the subatomic particles that continuously pop into and out of existence, the NASA researchers suggest. The results and the technology are promising enough to warrant further study, they wrote in the study.