“The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars, but now we can transcend it.” – Stephen Hawking
This afternoon, a press conference at One World Observatory in New York solidified intent to pursue interstellar exploration.”Intent” is far too modest – stitch together Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, Mark Zuckerberg and Stephen Hawking’s visionary spark – voila, Breakthrough Starshot is off and running. I can tell you what Starshot is, but won’t claim to understand the science.
Starshot is a spacecraft unlike any seen before. Ponder a vessel no larger than your cell phone, load hundreds into a “mother-ship” and launch that ship into space. Next, open the hatch. Witness a transformation from chrysalis to butterfly, as each craft unfolds wafer thin “sails”. Blink in wonder as laser beams fill those sails, in less than 2 minutes 600,000 mile away traveling at one fifth the speed of light. 4.37 light years away the Alpha Centauri star system beckons – that’s 40 trillion kilometers, a 30,000 year journey using conventional technology. Starshot nanobots could do it in 2o.
With projected launch capabilities in 20 years, plus another 20 across the cosmos, Alpha Centauri won’t be realized in my lifetime. Much as I’d like to lay eyes on Alpha Centauri, today is one of my happiest days. My children will realize Apha Centauri and beyond, my grandchildren might set foot on a planet or moon in Alpha Centauri’s solar system. I know in my heart anything is possible.
The announcement coincides with the 55th anniversary of Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin’s Vostok 1 mission in 1961. ( Yuri Milner was named in honour of Gargarin) –
“The human story is one of great leaps,” Milner said in a statement. “Fifty-five years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap — to the stars.”

7 thoughts on “Starshot

  1. I read about this this morning. Not sure of the value of this, since it’s 4.5 lyears to Proxima Centauri, so any info sent back will be at least 4.5 years out of date. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do it just for the sheer hell of it.

  2. Absolutely love it. We can wait 25 years to get data back. Heck, Voyager left 40 years ago and until very recently still beamed interesting stuff back.

    It does remind me a bit of that humongous computer from the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy that took 40’000 years to calculate the number 42. But I ain’t bothered – launch the craft and even just knowing that a piece of kit is near Alpha Centauri makes my day.

    • Anything indeed. 🙂 This comment sent me on a totally unrelated ponder – what would be the most perplexing/ridiculous/frivolous/ asinine song we could broadcast to the cosmos? I plan to give it some thought, meanwhile (and for reasons unknown) the first song in my mind was Sweet Home Alabama by the Leningrad Cowboys – WTF!

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