Travelling to Alpha Centauri August 27, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
As seen on the Charles Stross blog, there’s some scepticism as regards the likelihood of interstellar travel anytime soon by probe. That said here’s a bunch of optimists – the Breakthrough Starshot project…
…a proof-of-concept fleet of light sail spacecraft, named StarChip, capable of making the journey to the Alpha Centauri star system, 4.37 light-years away, at speeds between 20% and 15% of the speed of light, taking between 20 and 30 years to get there, respectively, and about 4 years to notify Earth of a successful arrival. The journey may include a flyby of Proxima Centauri b, an Earth-sized exoplanet that is in the habitable zone of its host star in the Alpha Centauri system. The conceptual principles to enable this interstellar travel project were described in “A Roadmap to Interstellar Flight”, by Philip Lubin of UC Santa Barbara.
And the idea is that there would be a ‘swarm’ of these… devices… sent out.
The fleet would have about 1000 spacecraft, and each one (dubbed a StarChip), would be a very small centimeter-sized vehicle weighing a few grams. They would be propelled by several ground-based lasers of up to 100 gigawatts. Each spacecraft would transmit data back to Earth using a compact on-board laser communications system using its lightsail as an antenna. A swarm of about 1000 units would compensate for the losses caused by interstellar dust collisions en route to the target.
There’s a heap of technical problems (wiki calls them challenges) to be overcome. And yet it seems to me that this is a good direction to be moving in if only because it is rooted in present day technologies.