Billionaire pledges $100mn to send spaceships to other galaxy
Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner has announced that he will invest $100 million to send spaceships to far off planets and stars of other galaxies. This comes as an addition to the $100 million invested by Milner last year in Breakthrough Listen project which would search for intelligent beings in the universe for the next 10 years. The new venture will be called Breakthrough Starshot.
Yuri Borisovich Milner is a 54-year-old Russian entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and physicist. He has invested in various firms including Facebook, Zynga, Flipkart, Xiaomi, Alibaba, OlaCabs, etc. through his firms Mail.ru and Digital Sky Technologies (DST) global. He was ranked by Fortune magazine in 2010 amongst the top 50 most prominent businessman. In 2012, he was in the '50 Most Influential' list of Bloomberg Magazine.
Yuri Milner had announced a $100 million Breakthrough Listen project in Jul'15 which will search for extraterrestrial life over the next 10 years. The programme scans 1 million closest stars to earth by using the most powerful instruments in the world.
Yuri Milner along with famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawkings will launch a new project, Breakthrough Starshot, which aims to develop featherlight tiny butterfly-sized spaceships. The "light-propelled nanocrafts" will fly to the nearest galaxy Alpha Centauri which is 4.3 light years or 40,000,000,000,000 km away. The spaceship will be pushed by solar sails through a 100 billion-Watt laser light from earth at 60,000 km/second.
Even by the fastest rocket available, it would take 30,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri, the nearest galaxy. However, Milner aims to reduce it to 24 years and he is confident that "it's doable in our lifetime".
Tech billionaires are increasingly developing an interest for space technologies. Elon Musk's, SpaceX had launched a cargo mission to the International Space Station and successfully tested a reusable rocket with sea landing last week. Blue Origin, founded by Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, had landed rockets back at the same place. Both Bezos and Musk are planning to launch humans into space.