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Breakthrough Starshot

A spaceship bound for Alpha Centauri

Tecnociencia 243Daniel BuenoA spaceship weighing just a few grams is expected to be propelled by laser beams to Alpha Centauri, a group of stars about 4.3 light-years from Earth, upon successful completion of a bold new project known as Breakthrough Starshot, headed by English physicist Stephen Hawking, Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, and American entrepreneur and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. If all goes well with the idea of accelerating the tiny spaceship to 20% of the speed of light, the trip should take 20 years. Both the ship’s propulsion and its communication with Earth will be achieved via laser. Dozens of researchers are participating in the project, whose initial cost is estimated at $100 million. Most of the participants are physicists from various universities and technology firms in the United States, Europe and Japan. At the project’s announcement in April 2016, its creators said that the research and engineering needed to implement the plan will be developed through global collaborations and will rely on an open, transparent data system. The list of technological challenges to be overcome can be found at the website.