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Stephen Hawking helps unveil interstellar travel project

Space science

A Russian billionaire has enlisted physicist Stephen Hawking to help him launch a futuristic plan for seeking life in outer space.

Called the Breakthrough Starshot mission, it envisages a mother ship launching thousands of minute spacecraft into space which will then use lazers from Earth to travel at 20% the speed of light to the nearest star system.

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking see it as an achievable challenge.

“With light beams, light sails and the lightest spacecraft ever built we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation. Today we commit to this great next leap into the cosmos because we are human and our nature is to fly,” Theoretical Physicist Stephen Hawking told journalists at a press launch in New York.

The spacecraft will be the size of a chip used in electronic devices… a nanoship. Using current technology it would take about 30,000 years to get to the nearest star system.

It’s hoped that with a little more research it might be possible to cut that journey time to just 30 years.