Solar Probe Plus to set speed records in space

A look at the Solar Probe Plus mission, due to launch in 2018.

The Solar Probe Plus mission from NASA is set to launch in 2018 will fly just 6 million KM from the Sun, and is set to smash speed records in space. At it’s highest velocity it will reach 200 KM/s.

I thought it would be interesting to see how long it would take to send a probe, at this velocity, to the nearest star Proxima Centauri, approximately 271,000 AU (or 3.99 * 1016 m) away.

The formula we want is a measurement of time t which is simply a rearrangement of s=d/t (where s is speed and distance is d). This is t=d/s

Now swapping in our distance and speed we get t=3.99 * 1016 m / (6.32 * 1012 m y-1 ) = 6432 years.

Wow. It is a long time, but considering last time I read up on this the estimates were 70,000 years this is coming down fast. How long before sending a probe to another star is possible within a human lifetime?

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