A Tractor Beam is quite simply a device that using energy is able to pull an object toward itself. While this device can move a 1.5 micrometer object, the likelihood of just manufacturing a larger version borders on the absurd. So much energy would be required that the object that was being pulled toward the originating device,(Perhaps a Bird of Prey being pulled toward the Enterprise?) would in fact be destroyed.
So is the entire try a failure? Of course not. The goal has merely shifted regarding this particular device. Think of the medical uses. Not good enough? Really counting on uses in space? Perhaps it might work if one were to change their expectations.
NASA funded a reward of $100,000 for a working tractor beam. If one can’t create a tractor beam capable of pulling in a ship, how about for a Rover collecting samples.
This little experiment and NASA’s involvement is two years old now. So where are we now?
At the beginning of this year scientists from Hong Kong & China wrote a paper on the concept saying: “A photon carries a momentum, so one may anticipate light to push on any object standing in its path via the scattering forces.”
Researchers in the Czech Republic have worked out how to generate an optical field that will reverse the pressure of light.
While the tractor beam has not been developed life-sized at this time. It has been proven in pulling small objects. Allowing speculation at the medical possibilities or even the sample-collecting NASA sought.
So while some success is being had, there is still much to do.