Relativistic Kill Vehicles

A fascinating weapon from the realm of science fiction: The Relativistic Kill Vehicle (RKV). These are kinetic weapons, like a rifle bullet or a cannon ball, with two differences: 1) they are typically larger, say the size of a phone pole, and 2) they are traveling at something close to the speed of light. This combination gives RKVs enormous energy, similar to that of an asteroid strike. These videos help to illustrate the destructive power of an RKV:

Relativistic Kill Missile
From the video’s description: “Humans are pretty good at creating weapons. So what does the future hold for advanced weaponry? Let’s take a look at the concept of the relativistic kill missile and see what physics and the speed of light can do for us in terms of kinetic energy and destructive power.”
Hitting Earth with a Grain of Sand Going 99.9% the Speed of Light

The Breakthrough Starshot Mission

Humanity’s first relativistic vehicle may be a design called Breakthrough Starshot, which will travel at 20% of the speed of light:

Stephen Hawking’s Starshot, explained
From the video’s description: “A bunch of scientists, including Stephen Hawking, want to send a tiny spacecraft to the next closest star using a giant laser. Seriously. Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has already invested $100 million into the project, called Starshot, to see if this type of technology can actually work. “
The Breakthrough Starshot mission explained
From the video’s description: “How huge lasers could zap a probe far beyond our solar system. Breakthrough Starshot aims to explore the nearest stars in our galaxy.”
Will Starshot’s Insterstellar Journey Succeed? 

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