Breakthrough Starshot: to Alpha Centauri in 20 years

Brian G Turner

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Pipe dream, or not? Either way, nice to see someone putting real money begin interstellar space exploration. Even if the project ultimately fails, there remains the possibility of breakthroughs that could be used later:

Billionaire pledges $100m to send spaceships to Alpha Centauri

Today, billionaire Yuri Milner, along with physicist Stephen Hawking, announced the largest ever investment in interstellar travel: a $100 million fund to research and prototype a spacecraft capable of reaching the nearest star in just 20 years.

Forget starships, though. These “wafersats” would be small enough to fit in your hand, weighing just a few grams. Milner and his scientific advisory team believe recent developments in lasers and nanotechnology should make it possible to send thousands of these probes to Alpha Centauri, where they could beam back pictures and scientific data on any planets in orbit.
 

Foxbat

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If they can harness the laser for propulsion (and I'm assuming the wafer sats have very little mass) I'm thinking (hoping) it might be possible.
 

mosaix

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As millymollymo says, you have to start somewhere. Let's hope for success but for lessons learned if it goes wrong. As far as I'm concerned I think it's great news. :)
 

BAYLOR

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20 years bring Alpha Centauri within reach . Now If they could build a ship that go near light speed, that would be really cool. :cool:
 

Brian G Turner

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An update suggests that Sirius in 69 years might be the better option:
Quickest we could visit another star is 69 years – here’s how

Quote:
René Heller at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, says we could reach and orbit Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky, in just 69 years.
...
Previous estimates by Breakthrough Starshot have indicated they could reach Alpha Centauri in just 20 years, travelling at a fifth of the speed of light. But this estimate was calculated for a flyby mission, passing by in just a few seconds.
 

BAYLOR

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An update suggests that Sirius in 69 years might be the better option:
Quickest we could visit another star is 69 years – here’s how

Quote:
René Heller at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, says we could reach and orbit Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky, in just 69 years.
...
Previous estimates by Breakthrough Starshot have indicated they could reach Alpha Centauri in just 20 years, travelling at a fifth of the speed of light. But this estimate was calculated for a flyby mission, passing by in just a few seconds.
Yes but are there any worlds orbiting Sirius to land on? :unsure:
 

BAYLOR

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69 years!! Not quick enough! I'll either be 140 years old or dead by then. I wonder which? :lol::lol:
They could put you in suspended animation via deep freeze and thaw you out when you arrive. :whistle:
 

Dave

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Is this a "fund" to fund research or a "prize" for the person who can achieve it? That NS article wasn't clear, as it says the billionaire has offered both. I'd personally go for the "prize" as it worked for the 1714 Longitude Act with the prize being won by John Harrison.
 

HanaBi

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It is an inevitability that some day we will reach for the stars! The finer points of how long it will take, and how humans will cope during that long (1 way?) journey, will be figured out in the next new wave of technology and new-found knowledge and discovery.

As Carl Sagan once said "Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere!"
 

hej

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Previous estimates by Breakthrough Starshot have indicated they could reach Alpha Centauri in just 20 years, travelling at a fifth of the speed of light. But this estimate was calculated for a flyby mission, passing by in just a few seconds.
Funny. I've heard much about attaining the high speeds necessary for interstellar travel. Nary a peep, though, about slowing down.

I guess until science and engineering tackles deceleration, close encounters with other stars will be blink-and-you'll-miss-it phenomena.
 

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