Remote Laser Propulsion: The answer to interstellar travel

Open Night on 9 November 2019
“Remote Laser Propulsion: The answer to interstellar travel”


Members of the public are welcome to an Open Night at the SAAO in Cape Town on 9 November 2019, starting at 20h00. Mr. Joshua Kotlowitz (UCT Space Science and Engineering) will present a talk titled Remote Laser Propulsion: The answer to interstellar travel. This will be followed by a tour of the site and (weather permitting) star gazing.

Summary of the talk

With the recent discovery of a planet in the habitable zone of our nearest neighbouring star, Proxima Centauri, there has been renewed interest in interstellar travel. While just over 4 light-years away, Proxima Centauri would take thousands of years to reach with conventional spacecraft. The only way to do this within a generation (20-30 years), is to travel near the speed of light.
Various propulsion methods have been suggested to achieve near-light speed, however almost all involve undeveloped technologies. Remote Laser Propulsion is now viewed by many as the most feasible propulsion method with current technology to reach nearby stars and has garnered substantial interest and funding from the likes of the late Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner. But what will it take? Is it really possible? How close are we to cruising through the cosmos at close to the speed of light?


The Open Night will take place at the SAAO in Cape Town. The SAAO is located off Liesbeeck Parkway, next to the River Club.


Gates open at 19h30 and parking is available on site.

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