Those Gram-Scale Lightsails Hawking Is Talking About? In For A Penny, In For A Pound

There’s been a lot of talk about the Stephen Hawking-backedStarshot” project to propel a tiny, perhaps 20-gram laser-propelled lightsail to Alpha Centauri to beam back some up-close snapshots in the name of science.

Seems to me the major expenses are in building the lasers needed to launch them, and in developing the technology to build an itty-bitty craft like that and have it still be capable of taking decent pictures and beaming them home.

So once we’ve spent all of the worthwhile cash and effort to do that, why not get our money’s worth and maximize our chances of seeing something interesting? Build a hundred of those itty lightsails. Build a thousand. Launch them all; spread them out over the whole Centauri system. We’ll have to wait about 25 years (trip + lightspeed delay of data beamed back) after launch to see the images, so let’s make sure what we get is worth the wait!

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