The group is backed by some heavyweight names including SETI, UMass Lowell and the BoldlyGo Institute. It's hoped that Project Blue can construct and launch a small space telescope with a 45 to 50 centimeter aperture. This craft will then be sent into Earth orbit to take pictures of Alpha Centauri A and B in the hope that they can find Earth-like planets that could sustain life. That would, the group claims, "profoundly impact our understanding of the potential for life to exist elsewhere in our galaxy." It's not the only initiative that has an eye on the star system: Stephen Hawking has put his weight behind the $100 million Breakthrough Starshot concept.
The New York Times asked Jon Morse, one of the project's leaders, how much the proposed mission would cost. He feels that the whole trip could be undertaken for around $50 million, roughly a third of your average NASA mission. That money is likely to be raised through a series of private donations from rich people with an interest in science. At least, that's the plan, although we imagine plenty of millionaires get requests like this on a regular basis. Then again, it does seem a bit screwy that our first contact with aliens could depend on how generous the folks from Shark Tank are feeling.