Imagine humans discovering other solar system. New planets, new stars, a far different unknown universe uncovered by humanity. Perhaps, this is the same vision Stephen Hawking and NASA had when they decided to merge to create the very first nano starship that can travel one-fifth the speed of light.
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Last April, Hawking announced the Breakthrough Starshot project, that he worked hand-in-hand with a team at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology. This nano starship is bound to reach Earth’s closest star system, Alpha Centauri.
The nano starship is called, “StarChip”, which is said that would reach the neighboring solar system of the Milky Way within 20 years. The voyage of this nano starship will not be easy. There are certain portions of the universe where the radiation level is extremely high. This radiation could destroy StarChip.That's when NASA plays their part.
To make sure that StarChip will complete its 20-year journey, NASA will guide it, and lead it to routes where the levels of radiation is safe. NASA has also proposed several developments of the project.
One of NASA's suggestions is to add a protective shielding on StarChip, to make sure it can endure any pressure or factors that may damage it during its 20 years of interstellar travel. However, adding more materials on the device means additional weight, which may slow down its speed.
Another proposal is to add a self-healing silicon chip on StarChip.
Though, there is still a huge chasm on completion of this project, Hawking believes it won't be long until the nano starship comes to life.
“The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars,” Mr Hawking said in an interview
. “But now we can transcend it. With light beams, light sails, and the lightest spacecraft ever built, we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation."