“Today, at the One World Observatory in New York City, Yuri Milner and I launched a mission to the stars. Mark Zuckerberg lent his support by joining the board of our new initiative, Breakthrough Starshot.
Within the next generation, Breakthrough Starshot aims to develop a ‘nanocraft’ – a gram-scale robotic space probe – and use a light beam to push it to 20 percent of the speed of light. If we are successful, a flyby mission could reach Alpha Centauri about 20 years after launch, and send back images of any planets discovered in the system.
Albert Einstein once imagined riding on a light beam, and his thought experiment led him to the theory of special relativity. A little over a century later, we have the chance to attain a significant fraction of that speed: 100 million miles an hour. Only by going that fast can we reach the stars on the time-scale of a human life.
It is exciting to be involved in such an ambitious project, pushing the boundaries of ingenuity and engineering” write Dr.Hawking on his facebook
Imagine hundreds of spacecraft the size of a butterfly, propelled by light beams at record-shattering speeds and journeying to distant stars 4.37 light years away — far deeper into space than human-built probes have ever ventured.