Stephen Hawking and a Russian Billionaire Want to Build an Interstellar Starship "Last year, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence got a major boost when Russian billionaire Yuri Milner unveiled a $100 million effort to scan the skies for radio and light signals emitted by aliens. Not content to simply sit tight and wait for ET to hail us, Milner now plans to build interstellar spacecraft. Yes, you heard that correctly." http://gizmodo.com/a-russian-billionaire-and-stephen-hawking-...
"The technology behind the billionaire’s ambitious proposal—of which prototypes were revealed today—includes a “Starchip,” a gram scale wafer carrying cameras, photon thrusters, power supply, navigation, and communication equipment. Propelling that miniature science laboratory is a “Lightsail,” a meter-sized sail that’s only a few hundred atoms thick and weighs a couple of grams. The light sail will be launched away from the Earth by a phased array of lasers, which Milner envisions carrying a combined power of over 100 Gigawatts, similar to the power needed to lift the Space Shuttle off Earth. By directing that much energy at an object weighing just a few grams, we can theoretically accelerate said object up to 100,000,000 miles per hour—a thousand times faster than the fastest spacecraft today." ‎- ronin