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A $100-Million Startup Shares Incredible Plan to Propel Spacecraft With Giant Lasers

Imagine paper-thin nano-spacecraft being propelled through space at 134 million mph by super-powerful lasers, brighter than the sun. They would also be strong enough to ignite entire cities in minutes, if turned back towards Earth. Where are the spaceships headed? Towards a potential new habitat for humanity in the nearby star system Alpha Centauri, which is just about 25.7 trillion miles away. Now imagine no more — this is not science fiction but an actual project gathering steam. The Breakthrough Starshot initiative raised $100 million for research from funders like the Russian-American billionaire Yuri Milner and a host of Silicon Valley investors. Notably, the Starshot initiative included the late Stephen Hawking and the Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb among its founders. What gives this group additional potential is that their idea for exploring space is based on 80 scientific studies on interstellar travel.

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