From Chapter 7
PROJECT SKY VAULT
7.1 EARLY MICROWAVE RESEARCH
The story Tom later told me about the Skyvault project was quite astounding. He said that he first heard about it in the fall of 1974 when working for an engineering firm in Texas. His supervisor, with whom he had come to be very good friends, one day told him about a top secret government project that he had formerly worked on between 1952 and 1957 at North American Aviation (which later became North American Rockwell). The project had been initiated by the defense department through North American’s Rocketdyne division. Although Tom’s boss had already passed away, Tom did not wish to reveal his name. So to facilitate this discussion we will simply call him “Dr. Murray” (since he was a Ph.D.). Dr. Murray had told Tom that the purpose of this project was to develop an antigravity vehicle that used microwave beams as its means for propulsion. It is uncertain whether Skyvault was the official name of the project, but at least this is what the scientists at Rocketdyne used to call it.
Although Project Skyvault was initiated by the government in the early 1950s, investigations into this exotic microwave propulsion technique actually dated back to the late 1940s. Dr. Murray said that during that time he had worked on projects that were associated with an initial phase of this research and had later continued this work at Rocketdyne where he worked up until the 1960s. This microwave antigravity propulsion research project was still in progress in 1974, because Tom learned that a close friend of Murray’s was then still working on the project at North American Rockwell, presumably in its Rocketdyne division. At that time the whole matter was still very secret because there was a lot that his boss couldn’t tell him about the project.
Later in 1975, Tom obtained what he felt was additional confirmation for the existence of Project Skyvault when the military sent his Texas-based engineering firm a bid request for building a vehicle launch gantry in New Mexico. From the blatant description of the shape of the gantry and the way it was to be built, he recognized that this was to be a launcher for a microwave beam antigravity craft. In this particular version the power was generated on the ground and sent up to the craft as a microwave beam. The beam was emitted from upward-pointing microwave horns that were supported by the launch gantry. The craft was made of a special kind of material that was repelled by microwaves and hence was to be buoyed upward by the beam; see figure 7.1. A portion of the beam was returned to the ground to “modulate” the outgoing microwave beam. The craft was to be able to go straight up and down and could only deviate a small amount to either side of vertical.
Figure 7.1. (not seen here) Artist’s conception of a Skyvault-type craft being launched on a ground-based microwave beam (© 2007, P. LaViolette)
The discussion about Project Skyvault that is presented here and in the next chapter is based on notes I had made of my conversations with Tom and on some notes Tom had sent me. This includes copies of notes that he had made of his 1974 discussions with Dr. Murray and a copy of a letter written by Dr. Murray’s friend who was at the time still working on Project Skyvault (see appendix E).
According to Dr. Murray, the first indication that microwaves could be used for propulsion came about when it was discovered that they could move objects if the objects happened to be made from the right kind of material. They believed that the microwave beam was somehow inducing a gravitational force on the object. The idea that microwaves could move objects was believable to Tom as he had heard of something remotely similar from a radar engineer friend of his who worked at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. His friend had witnessed an experiment in which a low-power microwave beam from a klystron tube was aimed at pencils placed on a table and caused them to move around. Tom theorized that the microwaves must induce electric charge gradients in certain materials having nonlinear electrical properties and that the observed movement was actually due to the Biefeld-Brown effect imparting a thrust to the material.
The group that Dr. Murray had worked with had experimented with many different kinds of samples to find out which worked best. Paper, silk, and some kinds of wood, for example, showed no movement. Brick and concrete also exhibited no movement, being essentially transparent to the microwaves. They found that some materials would move quite violently while others would just vaporize. Aluminum foil would move but would disintegrate upon exposure. They carried out extensive tests subjecting various kinds of materials to microwave waveforms of varying shapes and accumulated data on the destruction and burning of the materials and on the effect of shock waves on those materials that responded. They found that the best propulsion effect occurred in materials that had a particular magnetic property.
Dr. Murray said their group found that the effects were very frequency sensitive, that there were certain frequency bands that were characteristic of each material. If they got the frequency off by a slight amount, the object could suddenly vaporize. He described an experience they had in their lab one time when they were experimenting with various frequencies. He said they had turned on their microwave generator and it produced a bluish microwave beam that blew a hole through their laboratory wall and through an adjoining outside embankment as well. The beam was going into another building before they managed to shut it off. He said it “scared the living daylights out of them.”