Reaching for the stars might actually be easier than we think, if future spacecraft are able to use “solar-powered lasers to coax antimatter fuel out of the quantum vacuum of space.” The starship is called VARIES and the basic idea is to create fuel out of a total vacuum. Continue reading for two videos and more information.

VARIES stands for “Vacuum to Antimatter-Rocket Interstellar Explorer System.” It’s a fairly conventional antimatter-fueled rocket system, but the unique part is where it gets the antimatter from in the first place. VARIES is equipped with a gigantic set of solar panels, each of which is hundreds of square miles in area.

To fuel up, VARIES parks itself next to a star, and then uses those panels to power a truly monstrous laser that has enough power to smash the vacuum of space itself, spontaneously generating both matter and antimatter (protons and antiprotons) until it’s got enough reaction mass to make it to its destination. As long as VARIES can find enough solar power, it can create a virtually unlimited amount of the most efficient fuel that we know of.

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