This is the most ambitious Alien-hunting mission in the history of Mankind.
With the help of Russian Billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking aims to develop tiny spacecraft that will travel to the nearest Star to Earth, Alpha Centauri, in search for extraterrestrial life. The best part is that we can develop a technology that would get us there in 20 years. This means we need to create a propulsion system that will make a spaceship travel 151 million kilometers per hour.
Travelling to Alpha Centauri is anything but easy. In fact, with the technology humanity possesses today, it would take 30,000 years to get there. However, a new mission which aims to use a small fleet of ‘stamp-sized’ nano craft propelled by sophisticated lasers travelling at speeds of up to 20 percent the speed of light could get there really fast. In fact, a spacecraft that size, with a laser propulsion system could get to Pluto in just three days, meaning that to reach the nearest Star System, it would take us around 20 years. So, instead of using traditional heavy rocket fuel which wouldn’t get us far, Professor Hawking and his investors plan to use tiny spacecraft and light, in order to reach their goal: Alpha Centauri where just maybe, our cosmic neighbors are waiting to be found.
The ultimate goal of the revolutionary mission is to discover evidence of lifeforms outside of our galaxy, and who better than Stephen Hawking to make it happen?
“For the first time in human history we can do more than just gaze at the stars,” said Milner in a joint announcement with Hawking in New York City. “We can reach them.”
Called ‘Breakthrough Starshot’, the project costs over 100 million US dollars which will be wisely spent in order to create the sophisticated nano-spacecraft.
Interestingly last year, Milner invested millions of dollars in search for Alien life when he donated funds which will be used by SETI and their ground-based telescopes. However, it seems that the Russian billionaire is not stopping there, and wants to find out whether or not we are alone in the known universe.
It cannot get any more revolutionary than this. The probe referred to as ‘Starchip’ will be the size of a post stamp with a weight of around one gram. The stamp-sized spaceship will have all the necessary components to search for alien life: Cameras, photon thruster, a power supply, navigation and even communication equipment, everything squeezed into a minuscule spaceship.
Milner and Hawking calculate that blasting approximately 100 gigawatts of energy from ground-based lasers would be enough power to accelerate the tiny spacecraft to speeds close to 151 million kilometers per hour meaning that ‘we’ could get to Alpha Centauri in 20 years. However, everything is a theory now, and it is not the first time researchers have come up with the idea of using lasers to power spacecraft. So far based on calculations, everything should work flawlessly, but Professor Hawking and Milner have not still tested the spacecraft, and there’s a long way to go to make ‘Starchip’ reality.
The video illustrates how the project is going to work: