Heading for interstellar travel


A Belgian scientific team has designed a model of a solar-powered sailing boat that can reach speeds close to the speed of light.

An astrophysicist, a mathematician and a computer scientist from the UNamur Institute of Complex Systems have just published their work in Physical Review Research. Hailed by the international scientific community, the innovative modelling of a solar sail designed by this group of researchers would make it possible to achieve breakneck speeds.

In practical terms, the results of the Belgian study will be used for the robotic exploration of Alpha Centauri, the closest planetary and star system to our Solar System. With this Starshot project, within the next 20 years, scientists financed by billionaires Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg plan to launch several thousand very light space probes (1 gram) equipped with the solar sails developed by the Belgians.

As for a future manned flight, it is only feasible in theory, because sending a 100-ton spacecraft into space would require sails several hundred kilometres in diameter.