Astro blog part 1
Here is an interesting mission that is currently in the research and development stage.
Mission objective: Send a spacecraft to the Alpha Centauri star system and collect data
People behind the mission: Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Pete Worden, Avi Loeb, Freeman Dyson, Lou Friedman, Saul Perlmutter, Philip Lubin, Santa Barabara.
Estimated mission launch: 2030s
1. A mothership will launch into high-Earth orbitbefore releasing many (potentially thousands) of probes, one by one.
2. Each probe contains a StarChip which has cameras, sensors, navigation and communication computers, a power supply, and photon thrusters. All this on a chip the size of a postage stamp, and surrounded by a one metre2 sail, and a combined mass of just a few grams.
3. In a dry location at high altitude will be a large array of 1 million 1 kW lasers, giving a combined power of 100 GW.
4. The momentum of the laser photons on the sail pushes the StarChip away from Earth. The high power and low mass means that after 10 minutes the StarChips will be accelerated to 20% of the speed of light.
5. The StarChips will reach Proxima Centauri in 21 years, and Alpha Centauri in 22 years.
Estimated time of arrival at Proxima Centauri: 2050s
Speed of probe: 0.2c
Other: This project has been awarded $100 million by the Breakthrough Foundation, which will cover the beginning of the research and development process. The entire project is expected to cost several billion dollars