Of all the stars in the sky, you might assume the closest to the sun would be the easiest to visit. But this may not be the case.
René Heller at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany, says we could reach and orbit Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky, in just 69 years. This is despite the fact that it is twice as far away as our nearest stars in the Alpha Centauri system, which would take at least 90 years to reach.
A private enterprise called Breakthrough Starshot is hoping to send a fleet of small, wafer-thin spacecraft to visit Alpha Centauri and explore its tantalising planets. Previous estimates by Breakthrough Starshot have indicated they could reach Alpha Centauri in just 20 years, travelling at a fifth of the speed of light. But this estimate was calculated for a flyby mission, passing by in just a …