Breakthrough Starshot is the (mostly theoretical, right now) plan to send probes to another solar system riding on a beam of laser energy. To that end, they’ve been researching the ideal design of that probe, and they’ve come up with a rather novel idea for a space vessel – turning it into a ball and lobbing it towards the goal in a “cage” of four laser beams that keep it from drifting off course or flying away. Effectively, it’s a very very grand scale usage of a ball return machine for bowling and similar applications. And yet it might let humanity send its first probe to another planetary system.
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