Breakthrough Starshot Update #SpaceAccess2019

Peter Klupar is presenting on Breakthrough Starshot at Access Space 2019.

Peter reviewed the Breakthrough initiatives, Breakthrough prize, Breakthrough Listen and the Junior Breakthrough challenge.

Breakthough Watch looks at exoplanets up to 15 light years away.


There is a presentation on the Toliman and Toliboy systems.

Peter is presenting the Breakthrough Starshot.

They are making the Starcraft chip for about $75. They need to make the density of Starchip closer to light sail material.

They are building and working on various components of the system.

Starshot will use the energy of the Space Shuttle engine to propel a tiny 1 gram sail to 20% of lightspeed.

Contribution to solar system exploration. The Breakthrough Starshot concept could enable rapid solar system missions. At 20% of light speed, a nanocraft could reach Mars in an hour (it currently takes around 9 months), Pluto in a day (the New Horizons probe took 9 years) and interstellar space in about a week. Even at 2% of light speed, journey times would be significantly reduced.

* Using the light beamer as a telescope. The light beamer would constitute a kilometer-scale telescope in its own right. No such instrument exists today for optical astronomical observations.

* Asteroid detection. The light beamer could potentially be used to detect Earth-crossing asteroids at large distances.

StarChip component has 20 millimeter on a side but weighs 0.2 grams.
The lightsail is envisioned to be no larger than 4 by 4 meters (13 by 13 feet), possibly of composite graphene-based material.

Thet need to get the cost of the lasers down.

5 thoughts on “Breakthrough Starshot Update #SpaceAccess2019”

  1. Seems to me like steps 14 and 15 will be the most difficult.

    14: – Precision pointing of light beamer
    15: – Receiving images from beamer.

    Because that’s a hell of a long distance and the power’s going to be pretty darn low, even if it is a tuned laser on a ‘clear’ frequency (so to speak) We’re looking at maybe a watt each… if that much.

    But – what the heck. We’ve wasted a lot more money on a lot worse ideas…

  2. Maybe the electronics could be inkjet printed on an arbitrarily large area of sail. Maybe larger area components would be better for radiation durability. Antenna components could be printed on the sail itself as well.

  3. Yes iteration is best to tackle such a difficult challenge. Get it to work for outer solar system, then raise the specs on a second and third system otherwise it will just get stuck in complexity and surging costs.

  4. Parts of the entire system could be developed now. It would be nice to be able to sent these nanoprobes to the outer solar system.


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