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Engineers Dream of Practical Star Flight

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Science  07 Aug 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5378, pp. 765-766
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5378.765

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At a workshop last week on Robotic Interstellar Exploration in the Next Century, held at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and sponsored by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, engineers engaged in some uninhibited thinking about practical--or, at least, plausible--ways to propel, control, and communicate with an interstellar probe. Although the first interstellar probes would probably aim for nearby interstellar space, the ultimate goal would be to reach other planets within, say, 40 light-years of Earth.