The famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and the Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a new initiative which seeks to reach Alpha Centauri, the next closest star to Earth.
They have created Breakthrough Starshot with the help of physicist Freeman Dyson, producer Ann Druyan, astronaut Mae Jemison, Avi Loeb of the Harvard physicist and former director of NASA Ames Research Center, Pete Worden. Alpha Centauri is located at 4.37 light years away from Earth, it is the second closest star to us apart from Sun. To reach it, Starshot will use robotic ships smaller than a mobile phone, due to TechInsider.
Milner said Starshot will start at 100 million dollars invested in design, construction, launch and propulse “nano crafts”. As I said, will be a kind of tiny robots which will be deployed in space thanks to powerful lasers. “This is a Silicon Valley-style approach to space travel,” said Milner.
Of course, Starshot project is far from reality and breakout Starshot team estimates that it will happen in much less time than it would naturally. Normally, it would take 30,000 years to get there, only that this time, the distance would be covered in just 20 years. Currently, there is only a prototype StarChip, which, as you can see in the picture below is a small device like a computer processor. This would be the model for the main spacecraft, then thousands of devices are constructed the same. StarChip would be like a sail on a boat, but it would be pushed by light rather than the wind. A giant laser on Earth would give each spacecraft a strong impulse, sending it on the way with a speed of about 20% the speed of light.
Also, Dyson specifies that the space between Earth and Alpha Centauri is not empty and there are thousands of space bodies that will be photographed and examined. He thinks there are more chances to find life on an asteroid or a comet than a planet. The initiative supports Hawking’s warning given not long time ago, we must begin to colonize other planets if we want to ensure species survival.