Today, at the One World Observatory in New York City, Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking launched a mission to the stars. Mark Zuckerberg lent his support by joining the board of 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 it succeeded, 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 that this project is going to pushing the boundaries of ingenuity and engineering.