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Exoplanet ONE TIME USE.jpg
This artist rendering provided by the European Southern Observatory shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. (European Southern Observatory via AP)

A Russian billionaire wants to send a spaceship to a nearby planet that could have life



Back in April, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner promised $100 million toward an unusual and ambitious plan to discover a new star system that might harbor life.

The mission known as 'Breakthrough Starshot,' plans to accomplish this by sending an incredibly small set of spaceships across the galaxy at 20 percent the speed of light pushed forward by immensely powerful lasers. 

KickSat Sprite deployment

This is how the probes will be dispersed in space. 

Milner teamed up with renowned physicist Stephen Hawking to make this dream come true. Initially the pair were planning their destination to be Alpha Centauri, the second-closest star system to planet Earth -- it's located 4.37 light-years or 25.7 trillion miles away.

But a recent groundbreaking discovery of a closer planet could shift Starshot's plans in a new direction. Astronomers announced this week they'd discovered a new planet called 'Proxima Centauri' that's potentially habitable and closer by about 1 trillion miles than Alpha Centauri. 

The exoplanet next door

Business Insider contributed to this report. 

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