and I thought a centrifuge/space ring was the next crazy to come
There's a fine old tradition of laser sails in sci fi:
Makes a lot of sense; all your heavy shit stays on the ground and all your fast shit gets constant acceleration for as long as you can collimate at it. IN FACT I've set up a couple pitches for sci fi conspiracy movies over the fact that a number of ancient astronomers described Sirius as red, not blue. Why was it red? Because ET was pointing a launch laser at us, duh. In actuality they probably called it 'ruddy' for the same reason Homer talked about 'the wine-dark sea' in the Iliad - because the Ancients had a different relationship with color than we do.
Anyway. Druyan and Sagan tried to play with a solar sail about 20 years ago but it didn't deploy, as I recall. Lasers cost more back then. I'm not sure how they expect to get data back from something the size of a postage stamp but I reckon everybody involved is hella smarter than I am so I'm curious to see where it goes.