Renowned theoretical physicist and Russian entrepreneur and scientist Yuri Milner are teaming up to promote a really exciting project: an interstellar probe to our nearest neighbor, the Alpha Centauri star system.
The pair are proposing to accelerate a tiny high powered electronic probe, about the size of a smart phone, to 20% the speed of light using an ultra high powered laser. The probe would take about 20 years to reach the neighboring star system, which is about 4.3 light-years away.
This is a proof of concept project, which could lay the groundwork for future, more elaborate star probes, going forward. It’s exciting to realize that the rudiments of star travel are within our technical grasp.