Prototype for First Interstellar Spacecraft Launched
When you are going to explore the stars, chances are your first thoughts are as follows: Star Trek Enterprise: Massive ship equipped by hundreds of roaming stars that spread the good values of the Federation.
But Initiatives breakthrough, a research group focused on stellar exploration has a much more modest plan, and that is already tested.
Last week, the group successfully launched its first batch of six experimental operations. Called “sprites”, everyone is a little larger than a square inch, and only a few grams.
But even with such a thin frame, he managed to pack in communication antennas, a processor and a series of small sensors.
Project “Avance Starshot” Spalleras is known, aims to launch a small number of spacecraft to Alpha Centauri – our nearest celestial neighbor.
The idea is that if we can keep the work very, very small, it will be much easier to get machines of appreciable speed. Means a faster displacement than we can reach the stars before.
Yes we will not be able to send scouts or people with this technology but the hope is that we will learn enough about what is beyond our solar system that the company is worth more than that.
The sprites were made from a vehicle launching polar orbiting satellites from India and are now sitting in a low-Earth orbit, collecting data for research. Finally, the team hopes to make the art smaller.
Its final design will be called “StarChips” and works in the same way as the sprites; Only those will be built to travel nearly 20% of the speed of light – fast enough to reach Alpha Centauri in just 20 years, compared to tens of thousands that would be with conventional rockets.
The company also has big names, including astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. To start working quickly, the chips would have the power of a land or moon laser.
If it is strong enough and if the engineers behind the project can devise a way to fuse the Starchips with all that energy directed at them, then it can also have a viable candidate for stars.
The team wants to finally add everything from cameras, sensors and advanced navigation equipment to small propellers that allow the little guy to move around a bit.
And with each of those costing a small fraction of their biggest rocket brothers, we could literally send millions.
We could lose most of them along the way (after all, we still know very little about the dangers they can expect before the little kisses come out of their relatively safe star neighborhood)
And still get enough data to get useful data. Once the probes reached their target, we should have to wait four years to listen.
And it’s worth wondering how we can detect such a weak signal (again, the emitters will be tucked into something barely larger than a postage stamp), but our best minds are there.