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A startup is developing a 100-gigawatt laser to propel a probe to another star system. That may be powerful enough to 'ignite an entire city.'

A startup is developing a 100-gigawatt laser to propel a probe to another star system. That may be powerful enough to 'ignite an entire city.'




Breakthrough Starshot wants to use powerful lasers to propel tiny robotic probes to Alpha Centauri, a nearby star system that may contain habitable planets.




Yuri Milner, a Russian-American billionaire, and other Silicon Valley investors are funding the project.




Starshot calls for a 100-gigawatt laser that could shoot into space and accelerate probes called StarChips to 20% of the speed of light.




Chief engineer Peter Klupar said the laser would be brighter than the sun and "could ignite an entire city" if reflected back to Earth.



An initiative called Breakthrough Starshot wants to explore another star system using ultra-powerful laser beams and wafer-thin spaceships.
It's a goal that sounds so fantastic, you'd be forgiven for dismissing it as science fiction. But it's no joke, and the project's chief engineer says millions of dollars' worth of work is moving along without any major snags.
Starshot's founders and collaborators include the late Stephen Hawking, Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb, and Russian-American billionaire Yuri Milner. The concept is based on more than 80 scientific studies about interstellar travel.
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