Supposedly Breakthrough Starshot project wants to accelerate a capsule of the size of a mobile phone - according to one source - and of the size of the chip of a mobile phone - according to another source - to 20% the speed of light. But how about if you dont want to accelerate a probe that fast, but just faster than any probe has been accelerated before. AFAIK, the fastest probe ever made by NASA "Parker Solar Probe" will reach 692,000 km/h in 2024. With that speed it will take 14 years to reach 550 AU to be able to implement the FOCAL proposed space telescope (this isnt the intention of the probe made by NASA) (FOCAL proposed space telescope could allow to watch in detail the surface of exoplanets, but you have to place it 550 AU away of the sun). How about if you would want to accelerate a regular size probe to 1% the speed of light, so you could reach the distance to implement the FOCAL project in about a year. Can a regular size probe be accelerated that fast?


1 Answer 1


It's not going to do much at all with a regular sized probe. There are two problems:

1) You can't effectively scale this up due to the incredible acceleration. The bigger it gets the tougher it must be built and thus the lower the acceleration.

2) They're looking to boost a gram or two at 10,000g. Boost a kilogram or two and that drops to 10g. By the time you're up to even New Horizons size you're down to maybe half a g. Of course you get to laze it for longer but not nearly long enough before it gets out of range.

Note, also, that if you could somehow boost it to that 1% of c it wouldn't do you any good because you would have no way to stop once you got out there.


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