Mark Zuckerberg and Stephen Hawking

New Delhi: A fleet of postage stamp-sized spacecraft are going to be sent into space to study the far universe and explore possibilities of life.

Facebook Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg along with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has joined hands with scientist Stephen Hawking to study the most ambitious space exploration project in human history.

Breakthrough Starshot project is a philanthropic initiative by a team of billionaires and scientists that will focus on space exploration and search for life in the universe.

The mission plans to blast probes no bigger than cracker on a 20-year mission to our nearest neighbouring star system, Alpha Centauri, 25 trillion miles away.

While the team admit the technology is not quite there to get a ship to travel at 25 percent the speed of light – 46,500 miles per second – it is theoretically possible, according to Professor Hawking.

Under the $100 million project, the team will send nano craft” deep into space to explore the most remote regions that humans have ever seen, by far.

The hugely ambitious project could reveal deep secrets of the universe and will allow people to photograph one of the most likely places to hold life on other worlds.

Breakthrough Starshot hopes to launch thousands of the tiny, light-propelled spacecraft — called nano crafts — with the goal of reaching the star system in twenty years.

Those crafts will be able to send back images of possible planets and other scientific data, according to the scientists behind it.

Astronomers believe an Earth-like planet could exist within the “habitable zones” of Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to Earth, located 25 trillion miles (or 4.37 light-years) away.

Professor Hawking said at the event: “What makes us unique is transcending our limits. Gravity pins us to the ground, but I just flew to America.

“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, light sails, and the lightest spacecraft ever built. Today we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos because we are human and our nature is to fly.”