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Tiny Space Craft Are The Future According To Stephen Hawkins

rhinefire

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[h=3]Stephen Hawking wants to send tiny space probes to the stars[/h]Posted:

Apr 12, 2016 6:30 PM CDT
<em class="wnDate">Tuesday, April 12, 2016 7:30 PM EDT</em>Updated:

Apr 12, 2016 7:01 PM CDT
<em class="wnDate">Tuesday, April 12, 2016 8:01 PM EDT</em>

Some of the world's most brilliant minds, including physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are behind a $100 million program to send tiny "nanocraft" to explore Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system.



By Brandon Griggs CNN

(CNN) -- 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.
It's arguably the most ambitious space exploration project in history, and it may not be completed in our lifetimes.
But if anyone can pull it off, it's these guys.
Some of the world's most brilliant minds, including physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, are behind a $100 million program to send tiny "nanocraft" to explore Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system.
"Today, we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos," Hawking said alongside billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner at a press conference Tuesday in New York. "Because we are human, and our nature is to fly."
Hawking, Milner and Zuckerberg make up the board of directors for the mission, which is called Breakthrough Starshot and seeks to apply Silicon Valley ingenuity to space travel. The project is led by Pete Worden, former director of NASA's Ames Research Center, and advised by a committee of top scientists and engineers.
Their plan goes like this: They hope to build hundreds of little space probes, each weighing just a few grams and carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation and communication equipment. A rocket would ferry these nanocraft into space, where they would unfold tiny sails.

Powerful laser beams from Earth would then push the sails, propelling the little nanocraft up to 100 million mph -- that's 20% of light speed, far faster than today's spacecraft can travel -- to Alpha Centauri, where they would collect images and other data and beam them back to Earth.
Project leaders estimate that today's fastest spacecraft would take about 30,000 years to reach the Alpha Centauri star system, some 25 trillion miles away. But they believe these nanocraft could fly more than 1,000 times faster, which would allow them to reach Alpha Centauri in about 20 years.
The project's leaders admit they face big engineering challenges, and that any launch is many years and billions of dollars away. But they say their plans are based on technology that already exists or is likely to become available soon.
They also plan to ask the world's scientists for their help by posting public-domain research and soliciting ideas online.
Some scientists are skeptical they can make this happen, given the current limits of technology and the difficulty of raising enough money to fund the project. The Russian-born Milner estimates it could cost as much as $10 billion.
But he and his colleagues for now are optimistic.
"The human story is one of great leaps," Milner said in a statement. "Fifty-five years ago today, (Russian cosmonaut) Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap -- to the stars."

TM & © 2016 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
 

PoS

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(CNN) -- 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.
Ships the size of butterflies? Ugh, I would hate to be the astronaut who would be chosen to pilot that thing... :crazy3:
 

OrphanSlug

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We are so all over the place on predictions for the future, that I have given up on deciding who is perhaps more accurate than others.
 

Deuce

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Torn to shreds by interstellar dust specks.

edit: looking at numbers I have a correction.

Obliterated in a ball of fire by interstellar dust specks.
 

rhinefire

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Science is turning away from the Flash Gordon exploration of space. Robotics will do it as artificial intelligence will be more than sufficient to do all the things we dream of in space travel. Keep in mind it will be hundreds of years before we achieve real results in travel. Smoke spewing "rockets" manned by a professor, his daughter, a handsome captain and a stooge wearing a baseball cap with a wrench in his rear pocket is not the future. Voyager has been traveling since when and where is it in our solar system? Speed and miniaturization is the future.
 

Fenton

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Science is turning away from the Flash Gordon exploration of space. Robotics will do it as artificial intelligence will be more than sufficient to do all the things we dream of in space travel. Keep in mind it will be hundreds of years before we achieve real results in travel. Smoke spewing "rockets" manned by a professor, his daughter, a handsome captain and a stooge wearing a baseball cap with a wrench in his rear pocket is not the future. Voyager has been traveling since when and where is it in our solar system? Speed and miniaturization is the future.

Smoke spewing rockets will still be used in the future because of the massive amount of energy and speed it takes to break earths gravitational pull

The Space shuttle would eventually hit Mach 25 ( 8200 m/s )

So from the ground to orbit chemical propellants would still be needed and once the craft breaks free from Earths gravitational pull, ion engines could take it to its destination
 

Fenton

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Just thinking about this and it seems like a ridiculous premise

The problems with a Laser fired from a rotating Earth at a tiny craft wouldn't stop at the lasers obvious line of site limitations

They laser would have to reaquire the craft every day and would have a limited amount of time to push the sail before its line of sight was broken by the Earths rotation

Also light refracts as it passes through various atmospheric densities.

A infinitesimal error on Earth due to atsmopheric refraction would lead to a exponential error thousands of light years away and make hitting" tiny solar sail " literally impossible
 

Deuce

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Just thinking about this and it seems like a ridiculous premise

The problems with a Laser fired from a rotating Earth at a tiny craft wouldn't stop at the lasers obvious line of site limitations

They laser would have to reaquire the craft every day and would have a limited amount of time to push the sail before its line of sight was broken by the Earths rotation

Also light refracts as it passes through various atmospheric densities.

A infinitesimal error on Earth due to atsmopheric refraction would lead to a exponential error thousands of light years away and make hitting" tiny solar sail " literally impossible

No particular reason the laser has to be on the surface.
 

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Deuce

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Parking it on a Satellite in geosynchronous orbit might solve the refraction issue but not the line of site issue.

Personally I think NASA has a better idea.....

NASA - Ion Propulsion | NASA

I think Alpha Centauri is far enough off our oribtal plane to not have a line of sight problem
 

Fenton

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I think Alpha Centauri is far enough off our oribtal plane to not have a line of sight problem

Huh ?

Where on a orbiting sphere would we need to place that laser so as to maintain a line of sight with a spacecraft heading towards Alpha Centauri ?
 

Deuce

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Huh ?

Where on a orbiting sphere would we need to place that laser so as to maintain a line of sight with a spacecraft heading towards Alpha Centauri ?

If you picture the earth's orbital plane, anything sufficiently "up" or "down" can be seen 24/7/365. The so-called "North Star" being the most famous example of this.

And the laser-equipped satellite doesn't even have to be orbiting earth in the first place.
 

Thoreau72

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Science is turning away from the Flash Gordon exploration of space. Robotics will do it as artificial intelligence will be more than sufficient to do all the things we dream of in space travel. Keep in mind it will be hundreds of years before we achieve real results in travel. Smoke spewing "rockets" manned by a professor, his daughter, a handsome captain and a stooge wearing a baseball cap with a wrench in his rear pocket is not the future. Voyager has been traveling since when and where is it in our solar system? Speed and miniaturization is the future.

Nanotechnology is alive and well, especially in the medical field.
 
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