Mar 30, 2016

Reaching for the stars: How lasers could propel spacecraft to relativistic speeds

Posted by in categories: innovation, space travel

In a bold but scientifically sound proposal, NASA-funded research has laid out a roadmap toward spacecraft with relativistic speeds for the exploration of nearby stars (Credit: NASA). View gallery (8 images)

How do you send man-made probes to a nearby star? According to NASA-funded research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the answer is simple: assemble a laser array the size of Manhattan in low Earth orbit, and use it to push tiny probes to 26 percent the speed of light. Though the endeavour may raise a few eyebrows, it relies on well-established science – and recent technological breakthroughs have put it within our reach.

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