Policy | Light beamer and relativistic-speed nanocrafts

Clearance for launches will be required from all the appropriate government and international organizations.

Comments (25)

  1. dimebox22@gmail.com:

    This will obviously be a major scientific endeavor involving worldwide resources and technologies equivalent to putting a man on the moon or the Manhattan Project. To get this thing off the ground will require significant monies. That requires significant support from one end of the spectrum to the other. That support requires the distribution of knowledge outlining the justifications and the benefits to mankind. That requires a massive public education program--so lets get this underway by going to our colleges and universities and even our high schools to get young students interested and involved. Their interest will help produce the enthusiasm which will provide the involvement, the drive and the money. Just my "two cents". Lets build test versions to fly through our solar system first to develop the craft structure, perfect the propulsion systems and the communication systems to show we can receive useful information from the craft. Just my "two cents" as a layman very much interested in space exploration.

  2. Breakthrough Initiatives:

    Reply:
    Thank you for your contribution.

  3. Breakthrough Initiatives:

    Reply:

    You are absolutely correct that a project of this scale will require broad public support. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation supports engagement of high school-aged students in science via the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (see https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/ ). Undoubtedly as the technology advances and the program is scaled up to its full scope, public engagement will become an even larger priority. Just as you suggest, projects that make use of various components of the Starshot concept, e.g. a small part of the laser array, would provide a more economical and publicly-engaging path forward for the project in the long run. In addition to rapid deployment of probes to solar system objects as you suggest, people have considered sending probes to the solar gravitational lens location, chasing interstellar objects in the solar system like ‘Oumuamua using the laser for planetary defense from dangerous asteroids or comets, and communication.

    - John Forbes and Avi Loeb (Harvard), Breakthrough Starshot

  4. david-breakthrough@ephron.net:

    In "COULD SOLAR RADIATION PRESSURE EXPLAIN ‘OUMUAMUA’S PECULIAR ACCELERATION?" you wrote

    Since it is too late to image ‘Oumuamua with exist- ing telescopes or chase it with chemical propulsion rock- ets (Seligman & Laughlin 2018, but see Hein et al. 2017), its likely origin and mechanical properties could only be deci- phered by searching for other objects of its type in the fu- ture.

    Perhaps chasing this object down should be the first target of the Starshot initiative, provided the trajectory is sufficiently well known. The acceleration requirements are far lower, so many of the engineering tolerances will be less extreme and the laser could be much smaller.

  5. Breakthrough Initiatives:

    Indeed, the Starshot propulsion technology would allow flyby photography of interstellar objects like `Oumumua even for speeds that are a tenth of a percent of the speed of light (hundreds of km/s). Such speeds are an order of magnitude higher than the limit of conventional chemical rockets and well above the maximum speed achieved by `Oumuamua in its orbit around the Sun.

    Thus, one could use a scaled down version of Starshot to achieve this goal, where a miniature camera is launched at a modest speed in the direction of interstellar object. Since the required kinetic energy scales as a the square of the speed, the amount of energy needed for this task would be orders of magnitude lower than for the full scale Starshot system. The low cost per launch of the Starshot concept makes this approach ideally suited for imaging many interstellar objects, including trapped objects - such as the ones identified in the recent paper https://arxiv.org/abs/1811.09632

    - Avi Loeb (Harvard), Breakthrough Starshot

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