Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan


Bloomberg View speaks with Professor Zurbuchen about space travel

Posted: May 4, 2016

Bloomberg View speaks with Professor Zurbuchen about space travel Professor Thomas Zurbuchen

Bloomberg View recently published an article titled, “What It Would Take to Fly to the Stars.”

The article explores Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg’s proposal to send a mission to another solar system. According to the article, Zuckerberg and Milner propose completing a 9,000-year trip to Alpha Centauri in 20 years.

Professor Thomas Zurbuchen told Bloomberg View that there are some practical difficulties with this plan.

“For example, nobody knows how to focus a laser so precisely that it would stay perfectly trained on an iPhone-sized spacecraft as it hurtled away,” the article states. “Then there’s the problem that space isn’t perfectly void. There are hydrogen atoms out there -- about one per cubic centimeter.”

“These particles seem very calm and quiet, but once you start plowing through them at a quarter the speed of light, they turn into a death ray,” Zurbuchen told Bloomberg View.

To read the article, please visit

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