Nick Cook, JDW Aerospace Consultant, London – Jane’s Defense Weekly
Summary: Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, has admitted it is working on experimental anti-gravity projects that could overturn a century of conventional aerospace propulsion technology if the science underpinning them can be engineered into hardware.
Boeing, the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, has admitted it is working on experimental anti-gravity projects that could overturn a century of conventional aerospace propulsion technology if the science underpinning them can be engineered into hardware.
As part of the effort, which is being run out of Boeing’s Phantom Works advanced research and development facility in Seattle, the company is trying to solicit the services of a Russian scientist who claims he has developed anti-gravity devices in Russia and Finland. The approach, however, has been thwarted by Russian officialdom.
The Boeing drive to develop a collaborative relationship with the scientist in question, Dr Evgeny Podkletnov, has its own internal project name: ‘GRASP’ — Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion.
A GRASP briefing document obtained by JDW sets out what Boeing believes to be at stake. “If gravity modification is real,” it says, “it will alter the entire aerospace business.”
GRASP’s objective is to explore propellentless propulsion (the aerospace world’s more formal term for anti-gravity), determine the validity of Podkletnov’s work and “examine possible uses for such a technology”. Applications, the company says, could include space launch systems, artificial gravity on spacecraft, aircraft propulsion and ‘fuelless’ electricity generation — so-called ‘free energy’.
But it is also apparent that Podkletnov’s work could be engineered into a radical new weapon. The GRASP paper focuses on Podkletnov’s claims that his high-power experiments, using a device called an ‘impulse gravity generator’, are capable of producing a beam of ‘gravity-like’ energy that can exert an instantaneous force of 1,000g on any object — enough, in principle, to vaporise it, especially if the object is moving at high speed.
Podkletnov maintains that a laboratory installation in Russia has already demonstrated the 4in (10cm) wide beam’s ability to repel objects a kilometre away and that it exhibits negligible power loss at distances of up to 200km. Such a device, observers say, could be adapted for use as an anti-satellite weapon or a ballistic missile shield. Podkletnov declared that any object placed above his rapidly spinning superconducting apparatus lost up to 2% of its weight.
Although he was vilified by traditionalists who claimed that gravity-shielding was impossible under the known laws of physics, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) attempted to replicate his work in the mid-1990s. Because NASA lacked Podkletnov’s unique formula for the work, the attempt failed. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama will shortly conduct a second set of experiments using apparatus built to Podkletnov’s specifications.
Boeing recently approached Podkletnov directly, but promptly fell foul of Russian technology transfer controls (Moscow wants to stem the exodus of Russian high technology to the West).
The GRASP briefing document reveals that BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin have also contacted Podkletnov “and have some activity in this area”.
It is also possible, Boeing admits, that “classified activities in gravity modification may exist”. The paper points out that Podkletnov is strongly anti-military and will only provide assistance if the research is carried out in the ‘white world’ of open development.
Born in Russia in 1955, Podkletnov graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Chemical Technology, Mendeleyev Institute, in Moscow; he then spent 15 years at the Institute for High Temperatures in the Russian Academy of Sciences. Later he received a doctorate in materials science from Tampere University of Technology, and worked at the university, on superconductors, until 1996.
He is best known for his controversial work on a so-called “gravity shielding” device.
By 1997, Podkletnov had withdrawn his second paper (after it had been initially accepted[non-primary source needed]), was no longer allowed into his former lab in Tampere and had returned to Moscow, where he quietly took an engineering job. (In 1998 he was however reported to be working on superconductors at Tamglass Engineering Oy in Tampere.)