Can ISRO help realize interstellar travel?
Christopher Nolan fans may be familiar with his 2014 sci-fi masterpiece 'Interstellar', which took us on an exciting, emotional 'interstellar' quest to find another habitable planet. While in reality, only five NASA spacecrafts have attempted to journey outside our solar system, our rockstar space agency ISRO is now part of a mission that will move interstellar travel close to reality. Here's all about it!
What is interstellar travel?
Interstellar travel refers to piloted or unpiloted journeys undertaken between stars or planetary systems. It has so far remained in a hypothetical realm, as it takes may take thousands of years to cover great distances, exceeding beyond human lifespan.
Indian Space Research Organization and interstellar travel
ISRO launched six prototypes of sprites (small interstellar spacecraft) using PSLV-C38 into the Lower Earth Orbit on June 23. The tiny sprites which are merely 3.5 cm in length and 4 gm remarkably succeeded in establishing contact with ground stations and became the smallest spacecraft to do so! Through this 'giant leap' ISRO has sown the seeds for future interstellar travel.
ISRO's launch of interstellar sprites
ISRO launched its six interstellar sprite prototypes when PSLV-C38 recently launched 29 nano-satellites from 14 countries along with Indian military's Cartosat-2. The sprites piggybacked on Venta-1 and Max Wailer, two among the 29 satellites made by Germany in collaboration with Latvia and Italy respectively.
Breakthrough Starshot: The larger scheme to look into space mysteries
ISRO's launch of sprite prototypes was done as part of a multi-million dollar project backed by cosmologist Stephen Hawking and Russian millionaire Yuri Milner and aims to reach 'Alpha Centauri', the closest star to earth. It is estimated to take a sprite about 20 years to reach its destination, the sprites are expected to send back images of the star and its planet 'Proxima-B'.
Sprites to be launched using laser!
The project aims to use lasers to launch tiny sprites to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to earth. The laser is expected to help accelerate the sprites to about 15-20% the speed of light, helping overcome time and speed limitations.