Alpha Centauri is the closest solar system to our own, as it’s located about 4.3 light-years away. It would take a lot more than a human lifetime to go there using the current technology – almost 20 thousand years. But even so, scientists have a new idea that could prove to be revolutionizing.
InterestingEngineering.com reveals the new idea of the international research project Breakthrough Starshot, implying a new type of propulsion that uses a lightsail and a laser beam array. Thus, the spacecraft would be able to reach Alpha Centauri a lot faster than by using humanity’s current technology. It would even be possible within a human lifetime.
A long way to go, also literally
The new idea is not even in its testing phase. The spacecraft wasn’t even developed yet. But that can’t stop scientists from expressing their ideas. After all, any great scientific achievement first began with an idea.
Behold part of the official description of the video:
Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and development program, aiming to establish proof of concept for a ‘nanocraft’ – a fully functional space probe at gram-scale weight – driven by a light beam. A spacecraft like this, equipped with a lightsail, has the potential to reach twenty percent of the speed of light – or 100 million miles an hour. At that speed, it could reach Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, in around 20 years. Using the fastest conventional rocket propulsion system available, the same journey would take tens of thousands of years.
The world could sure use more ways of traveling faster through space. It would take months even to go to the nearest planet. The Universe is huge, but it also deserves to be explored as much as possible. Diving deep into the unknown is one of the major goals in astronomy.