Interstellar Travel: Approaching Light Speed

  • Published on:  Wednesday, December 21, 2016
  • Is interstellar travel doomed to remain in the realm of science fiction? Sticking to near future space propulsion only, how close can we get to the speed of light?

    This video looks at the current spacecraft speed records with Apollo 10 holding the record for the fastest manned spacecraft, New Horizons probe for the fastest Earth escape velocity and the Helios probes for the fastest heliocentric velocity. But Solar Probe Plus will beat that when it launches in 2018. While Voyager 1 doesn't set any speed records, it was the first spacecraft to leave the solar system, so therefore the fastest solar system escape velocity by default.

    For beating these speeds, this video explores what is possible in the near future only, so no antimatter, Alcubierre drives (warp), ramjets, etc... The EM drive is left out until it's proven with actual reproducible results in space.

    Project Daedalus and the updated Project Icarus represent sound concepts for fusion spacecraft. IKAROS was the first successful demonstration of solar sail technology but hopefully the planetary society is not far behind with their LightSail cubsat (not covered in this video).

    But what appears to have the most potential to reach the nearest star to our own, Proxima Centauri and it's newly discovered planet Proxima b is Breakthrough Starshot. Thousands of super lightweight laser sail nanocraft will be launched into space then the light beamer, a ground based laser array will propel these spacecraft to 20% light speed within minutes.

    *All sources used in researching this video are listed in the end credits*

    Music: "Inspired" Kevin MacLeod (
    Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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  • Jimiticus


     2 years ago +318

    As a follow up, you can watch my latest video on how the Sun can be used as a gravitational lens to get a high resolution image of an exoplanet for the first time. This would be even better resolution than breakthrough star shot is capable of.

  • Anti


     an hour ago

    Can’t antimatter help us with this? And I’m being serious..

  • Poison_ Corpse

    Poison_ Corpse

     5 hours ago

    If light is massless why does laser light bend when you shine it across the sky?

  • Philip Birch

    Philip Birch


    Near light speed may be possible but actual traveling at it would be hazardous to say the least. Gases and clouds of matter fill the space between the stars. Hitting a thin cloud of hydrogen at 50million mph would be like hitting a brick wall.

  • Parker McLendon

    Parker McLendon


    10 billion for the laser propulsion set up? American spend 9 billion a year on Halloween

  • Jonathon McGlew

    Jonathon McGlew


    I think gravity is speed.

  • bpdubb



    screw the rest of the world and their metric system!! ugh!!!!!

  • quoctuan tran

    quoctuan tran


    LightSpeed : I'm the FASTEST!!!...
    Starwars HyperSpace : Do i look like a joke to you?




    Harness the power of a nuclear explosion to use for propulsion there we have the speed of light.

  • JESUS IS KING channel

    JESUS IS KING channel


    I wonder why GOD put us so far away from any other life sustaining planets ??? ummm because we are so evil, we kill each other on our own planet imagine what we'd do to other planets less advanced than us.

  • kalajel


     2 days ago

    I heard that there's this nice scientist with a glass eye and a hook for a hand, living on a volcano island, who would be willing to build an orbital laser.

  • Chris Martinezyhy. Yay

    Chris Martinezyhy. Yay

     2 days ago

    Don’t you believe bending space time or worm holes or some way of traveling vast distances in a relatively short time would be possible in the next 100-200 years?? Think about where technology was 150 years ago. There was no electricity, cars, airplanes. Technology has increased more in the last 100 years then it has in the last 1000 years. Just think where we’ll be 100 years from today. You’ll be vacationing somewhere near Alpha Centauri

  • Justin Sias

    Justin Sias

     2 days ago

    1.21 jigawatts


     3 days ago

    14mm on both sides of the sail, cant be corect ???? thats euro/mesure and is only the size of a penny ..? maybe you ment 14Meters on both sides. thats "14m" then to be corect ! "mm" = Milimeter and "m" is the short for : Meter ! type right when making data !

  • Shinobi Jair 76

    Shinobi Jair 76

     3 days ago

    What about time dialation?

  • OH Yeh!

    OH Yeh!

     3 days ago +1

    Space Force 🇺🇸🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀

  • Judy kim

    Judy kim

     3 days ago

    Soon, US NASA Star Treks will be on Interstellar Travel by.186 000 miles per second of Light Speed !

  • BJM Graphics

    BJM Graphics

     3 days ago

    Nuclear bomb propulsion?

  • Jessica Lengyell

    Jessica Lengyell

     3 days ago

    Maybe release a counter-weight against the sun's gravity might speed it up??

  • Raythetree001


     3 days ago

    Element 115