Launch of Breakthrough Starshot

April 12, 2016 – the fifty-fifth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first space flight – saw the launch of a new initiative, Breakthrough Starshot

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking were joined by Ann Druyan, Freeman Dyson, Mae Jamison, Avi Loeb and Pete Worden to make the announcement at the One World Observatory, New York City.

Stephen Hawking delivered the following personal address:

We are here today to talk about Breakthrough Starshot - and our future in space.

What makes human beings unique? There are many theories. Some say it’s language, or tools. Others say it’s logical reasoning. They obviously haven’t met many humans.

I believe what makes us unique is transcending our limits.

Nature pins us to the ground. But I just flew to America.

Nature forbids me from speaking. [Pause.] But here I am.

How do we transcend these limits? With our minds, and our machines.

The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars. But now we can transcend it. With light beams, lightsails and the lightest spacecraft ever built, we can launch a mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation.

Today, we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos.

Because we are human. And our nature is to fly.