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New ideas for a robotic interstellar mission are percolating.

Ambitious science and strategic plans are being formulated for the fastest flight ever to interstellar space — almost six times faster than NASA's record-holding Voyager 1 spacecraft, which launched in 1977 and went interstellar in 2012. 

With the goal of reaching 90 billion miles (145 billion kilometers) from the sun, the proposed robotic explorer would push the limits of engineering know-how and space technology, advocates say. [Gallery: Visions of Interstellar Starship Travel]

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is leading an international look at this prospect with a team of scientists and engineers studying a mission to the virtually unexplored space beyond our sun's sphere of influence.

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Category: Science