Monday, May 23rd – Dr. Philip Lubin (Breakthrough Starshot)

Photo of Dr. Philip Lubin, physicist

Monday, May 23rd – Dr. Philip Lubin (Breakthrough Starshot)

Dr. Philip Lubin is the researcher behind the original $100 million-dollar idea and roadmap to send probes from Earth out to Alpha Centauri—riding on a laser beam.

We will be discussing Breakthrough Starshot, working with Yuri Milner, SETI, photonics, and more!

Guest Bio

Philip Lubin is a professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara whose primary research has been focused on studies of the early universe in the millimeter wavelengths bands as well as applications of directed energy for planetary defense and relativistic propulsion.

His group has designed, developed and fielded more than two dozen ground based and balloon borne missions and helped develop two major cosmology satellites. Among other accomplishments his group first detected the horizon scale fluctuations in the Cosmic Microwave Background from both their South Pole and balloon borne systems twenty years ago and their latest results, along with an international teams of ESA and NASA researchers, are from the Planck cosmology mission which have mapped in exquisite detail the structures of the early universe. He is a co-I on the Planck mission.

His group has worked on applications of directed energy systems for both small scale single launcher solutions as well as large standoff systems for planetary defense and on applications to allow small interstellar probes. He is co-recipient of the 2006 Gruber Prize in Cosmology along with the COBE science team for their groundbreaking work in cosmology. He has published more than 350 papers.

About Breakthrough Starshot (via

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and development program, aiming to establish proof of concept for a ‘nanocraft’ – a fully functional space probe at gram-scale weight – driven by a light beam. A spacecraft like this, equipped with a lightsail, has the potential to reach twenty percent of the speed of light – or 100 million miles an hour. At that speed, it could reach Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, in around 20 years. Using the fastest conventional rocket propulsion system available, the same journey would take tens of thousands of years.

This new scientific initiative is committed to international collaboration, open access and open data. It aims to represent all of humanity as one world, stepping out into the galaxy within a generation.

On the fifty-fifth anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s great leap into space, April 12, 2016, Yuri Milner was joined by Stephen Hawking at New York’s One World Observatory to announce Breakthrough Starshot, which will lay the foundations for humanity’s next great leap: to the stars. It was also announced that Mark Zuckerberg joined the board of the initiative.

Video – NASA 360 – Going Interstellar

Video – Philip Lubin – Breakthrough Starshot (


Guest website:

What led to Starshot:

Breakthrough Initiatives (News)

SETI Implications

Planetary Defense Implications

Articles –

Time Magazine – Inside the Plan to Send Tiny Probes to Explore Far-away Stars

Scientific American – $100-Million Plan Will Send Probes to the Nearest Star
“Funded by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner and with the blessing of Stephen Hawking, Breakthrough Starshot aims to send probes to Alpha Centauri in a generation”

Wired Magazine

Popular Science

The Economist

Papers –

Roadmap to Interstellar Flight (Lubin, 2015)

The Search for Directed Intelligence (Lubin, 2016)

Directed Energy Missions for Planetary Defense (Lubin, et. al., 2016)