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DE-STAR and Breakthrough Starshot: A Short History

5 Oct 2018, 17:30 UTC
DE-STAR and Breakthrough Starshot: A Short History
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Last Monday’s article on the Trillion Planet Survey led to an email conversation with Phil Lubin, its founder, in which the topic of Breakthrough Starshot invariably came up. When I’ve spoken to Dr. Lubin before, it’s been at meetings related to Starshot or presentations on his DE-STAR concept. Standing for Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation, DE-STAR is a phased laser array that could drive a small payload to high velocities. We’ve often looked in these pages at the rich history of beamed propulsion, but how did the DE-STAR concept evolve in Lubin’s work for NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts office, and what was the path that led it to the Breakthrough Starshot team?
The timeline below gives the answer, and it’s timely because a number of readers have asked me about this connection. Dr. Lubin is a professor of physics at UC-Santa Barbara whose primary research beyond DE-STAR has involved the early universe in millimeter wavelength bands, and a co-investigator on the Planck mission with more than 400 papers to his credit. He is co-recipient of the 2006 Gruber Prize in Cosmology along with the COBE science team for their groundbreaking work in cosmology. Below, he tells ...

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