Space travel: Stephen Hawking and billionaire’s plan for laser-propelled nanocraft fleet – TomoNews
THE FINAL FRONTIER — A team of renowned scientists, Silicon Valley elites and a billionaire businessman have conceptualized a fleet of postage stamp-sized spacecraft for the purpose of interstellar exploration.
According to the New York Times, the board of directors for the mission includes Russian billionaire and entrepreneur Yuri Milner, physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
All technology — including the camera — for the tiny interstellar spacecraft would be placed inside a postage-stamp-sized chip, reported the Los Angeles Times. Called a “Starchip,” this device would come with a light sail to form a nanocraft. This sail has a surface that would use Earth-based laser light to propel it along, reported the New York Times.
The laser light would come from a laser array potentially situated 13,000 feet above sea level in the Atacama Desert in South America, reported Wired citing Milner. Using light energy from the 100-gigawatt laser array, the team plans to send a fleet of these nanocraft to our closest star system, Alpha-Centauri.
The proposed nanocraft could travel at 20 percent of the speed of light, or 134.2 million miles per hour, using laser light propulsion. At that speed, a nanocraft could traverse the 25 trillion miles to Alpha Centauri in a matter of decades, reported the Los Angeles times. while a current spacecraft would take thousands of years.
Dubbed Breakthrough Starshot, Milner has invested around 0 million in the nanocraft concept. However, it will still potentially cost billions and could take up to 30 years to get a swarm of the devices into space if the concept is shown to be successful, reported Wired.
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