Newly Designed Spacecraft With One-fifth the Speed of Light Can Reach Another Solar System in 20 Years

A method for building a spaceship that can travel at a fifth of the speed of light and reach another solar system in about 20 years has been developed by Breakthrough Starshot Initiative researchers. 

The triple-star system Alpha Centauri, which is located between 4.2 and 4.4 light-years from Earth, is the nearest one.

It implies that the majority of individuals living now may be able to travel across solar systems during their lifetime. Instead than waiting a thousand years to explore a star as is currently possible with existing spacecraft, the goal of this project is to do it quickly.

The Starshot Project's experts need to make sure that the spacecraft can move between stars at speeds that are near to the speed of light, according to The Space Academy. So, if the mission is too distant from the speed of light, it will fail. That is, however, impractical given the state of human technology, which excludes even theoretical "warp drives" and ion engines.

By using a ground station's network of lasers to power a three-meter-diameter solar sail that is just a few microns thick, Starshot Project hopes to fly at one-fifth that speed.

The closest star system to Earth is Alpha Centauri, which is around 4.37 light-years distant, and can be reached by sail. If the Starshot spaceship moved at a fifth of the speed of light, it would likely reach its destination in around 20 years. The signal would take little less than four and a half years to reach Earth from there.

The Starshot Project is progressing well, according to Simon Peter Worden, a former director of NASA Ames Research Center who is currently the director of the Institute for Theory and Computing at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Avi Loeb. However, he added that they have only just figured out how to make the technique work.

A group of researchers from the project, led by Igor Bargatin of the University of Pennsylvania, presented their findings in two publications in the scholarly journal Nano Letters with the intention of resolving two key issues.

Two Core Issues with the Starshot Project's Innovation The Starshot Project may provide the groundwork for the first launch to Alpha Centauri by proving that ultra-fast light-driven nanocraft are technically feasible. Before it becomes a reality, however, a number of difficult engineering problems must be overcome.

As part of their dedication to openness and transparency, they published these essential issues on their website for assessment by professionals and the general public. They believe that solving these technical problems will pave the way to the stars, inspire creativity, and open up new horizons for exploration.

The most likely spaceship that can be delivered to Alpha Centauri within the next generation, according to scientists, is the nanocraft idea paired with light beamer, lightsail, and StarChip. Its design is based on technology that is either presently in use or will be in the not too distant future.