Will space travel exist at some point?
Yes, with star wars technology and everything!
47.1% (99)
47.1% (99)
Yes, but only slow space travel (no hyperdrives)
48.6% (102)
48.6% (102)
No, for the reasons extra credits mentioned.
4.3% (9)
4.3% (9)
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Poll: Why I think space travel will never be a reality

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hakkarin:
There is one thing you guys are all forgetting: Natural disasters.

Considering how often super disasters have happened over the course of history (super volcanos, asteroids etc) I think those will kill us before we have any chance to get to other planets. It also explains why aliens have never come to us. They died because of disasters before it could happen.

This possibilities didnt stop us from evolving for millions of years to come to this point. No matter what awaits us before true space travels begin, compared to path humanity has done so far its just a threshold.

Credossuck:

Baron_BJ:
SNIP.

Metals rank about best at being able to be recycled. It will be hard to run out of that. You activly have to work for that.

True, it's one of the very last things to be worried about, but it's still on the cards, I mainly listed it due to how it could potentially relate to humanity as a whole and how it relates to the OP's question in particular. With regards to the Earth I'd say we've got well about a thousand years to go at our current rate before we have any real problems (a number pulled out of my ass, I've had no luck finding any real numbers relating to this, though I know they're out there) before we would need to tighten the metaphorical belt.

For the sake of discussion though there's also the idea of a species being consistently set back and wasting their resources, regardless of how much they have. Humanity has had such setbacks in the past, but never anything too major to recover from, an example that I will butcher is the "Dark Ages" (referring to the period in such a way is kind of absurd, but I'm using it as a shorthand since it's common knowledge that for a long time we regressed technologically and didn't recover for a very long time due to a number of circumstances). An extension of that idea; Let's say tomorrow Earth is hit by an asteroid like the ones that killed the dinosaurs, we're not wiped out, but we've lost a great deal and to make things even remotely habitable after such an occasion we have to basically set up large habitats and rework all of civilization, we'd waste time and considerable resources. Not an inconceivable occurrence.

Advanced space travel is indeed a near possibility that's been explored time and time again.

Also, of course everything'll wipe us out. As a depressing German man once said, "We're animals and animals die" or something like that. But I imagine that, if technoology is advancing as the same rate it is now, then advanced space travel may be possible before that happens.

Besides, would it really matter? You'll have been dead for thousands of years. your bones will probably have been made into a tea tray crafted by whatever the dominant species is then. (Oh God let it be dinosaurs)

I voted for the Star Wars one. I think we will travel out to the stars given time. Look how much we advanced in the last 100 years. Would some intelligent species die out before getting to space? Yes, but not all of them. A lot of things people consider to be "the end of the world" would really be the start of a new Dark Age not the end of all human life. Also something a lot of you seem to be forgetting is Transhumanism. I think by the time humans are heading to space that they'll be neat cyborgs.

I tend to think it's possible, our perspective of space travel currently is as precise as our current tech allows us to be. I figure that further technological developments will make most of what seems daunting seem increasingly approachable.

I'm saying this while assuming that there's a hard cap on what Physics will allow us to accomplish. I won't go so far as to assume something along the lines of Mass Effect is a potential, but I certainly can see other cultures develop on other planets, especially cultures derived from Earth's own ethnic and cultural basins.

As for aliens - assuming we drop anthropocentrism, communicating with them could be difficult. I've always been more comfortable with the prospect of documenting alien life, but otherwise letting them be. On the other hand, I'm not expecting First Contact to happen on Earth, for the reasons Dan Aykroyd tends to bring up.

We're a self-destructive species that seems unable to face members of different ethnicities or religions without resorting to bloodshed. What's stopping most aliens from thinking "Screw these losers, they're not worth our time"?

Furthermore, what's stopping them from thinking this, deeming us inferior and attempt to steamroll us?

The only thing I know is that I, or anyone else, probably has as much success predicting 200 years from now as people 200 years ago did predicting today, as in absolutely none at all.

I think never is a rather silly thing to say on this subject.

Not long ago people would've stared in disbelief if you told them you could communicate with other countries, even overseas, in under a second. Nowadays we consider 500ms ping, half of that, to be extremely high.

The only correct answer, for anything over a timespan of about 20 or so years is that we haven't got even the faintest clue.

People didn't think we'd fly, or fly across the oceans. That we could never get to the moon.

I'd say we're closer to space travel than we are to our cave man ancestors. Look at what we've accomplished in just the last 100 years. People born when there was just oil lanterns for light and horses for travel lived to see people land on the moon and the internet.

It's inevitable. As for encountering intelligent Aliens, maybe. Are we among the first sentient beings to come to be in our galaxy? Will our civilization endure to see the creation of others? Time will tell.. But we're survivors at our very core. We'll make it.

There's a lot we don't know. Worse, there's a lot we don't know we don't know. It's not really possible to predict with any reliable accuracy what we'll discover in the future, so, abandoning the rational position that it's impossible to know that which can't be verified, I'm leaning on the side of holding out for my warp drives and space magic.

There's a few arguments in this thread that need to be countered cos they are full of BS:

On "omg we humans have accomplished sooo much! we are so great! go us!":
Compared to the Zul species of planet gamma e3242 or the Gallio species of planet sigma 4?
We have no basis of comparison to be tooting our own horn, it's like being proud of winning a race where no other competitor turned up and thinking your own lap time is amazing.

"Us humans are so adaptable/can accomplish anything/look at our history!/"
I'm a 40k fan and would be the first to preach this kinda stuff in fiction. But in reality? Oh jeez how I wish the mere power of believing made it so. Again we have no basis of comparison, what the heck do we know what humanity's strengths and weaknesses are in comparison to other sentient species besides it being the a general fictional trope that humans are a jack of all trade race?
For all we know we might actually be amongst the stupidest species with the slowest technological advancement rate that ever achieved sentience in this entire sector, and other xenos laugh openly at this bunch of primitives. Conversely we might also be the strongest/fastest/smartest, but we just don't know.

Finally I'm off the mind that before we start spawning galactic empires, we need to sort ourselves out first.
I mean jeez, we aren't even a united species yet, this would cause all sorts of problem and significantly weaken our position if we do encounter other alien species, who unlike us might be a united race and decide that this bunch of divisive squabbling wasteful pink skins are ripe for a good old divide and conquer, especially as the "divide" part is already there.

Otherwise to answer directly to OP's question:
I'm more pessimistic then most as you can tell by what I just wrote but I believe building a colony on mars and other planets in our solar system is well within our limits.
Despite sharing OP's belief that humanity might very well become extinct on earth through an ecological disaster or vast climate change of some sort (whether it be due to mans doing or not is irrelevant) before we really get anywhere with long distance space travel, so long as we have colonies on other planets and they can sustain themselves, then humanity has a chance to live on and hopefully achieve long distance space travel even if it takes another 2000 years. ~So yeh I believe even fast long term space travel might be possible, the question is if humans will be in a position to achieve it.

Oh yeah that's another BS belief some expressed here that needs to be corrected: that humanity's tech is one steady stream of progression and we can only keep doing better.
Humanity's technological progress isn't a steady line graph that keeps going up. We can regress technologically as the dark ages proved. So even the technology we have now can be so easily lost under the right set of tragic circumstances.
For all we know this is the height of human technological progress for this millenia, we are going to be facing some serious ressource shortages in the next centuries and humanity has some serious challenges ahead where it must sort itself out or die.
And honestly if we can't sort ourselves out, maybe it's for the best we don't achive interstellar flight.

Zontar:

Ieyke:
We're already just a stone's throw away from basically every technology in Star Trek.
There's literally nothing in Star Trek that I'm aware of that we're not working on on some level with a fair idea of how to do it.

The only one that currently appears impossible is practical teleportation of people, though we've already achieved teleportation of less useful sorts.

NASA's currently working on plasma engines, force fields, and it's mulling over warp drives.
Not even kidding.

With the privatization of space travel and NASA's increasing goal of trips to Mars, it won't be long til we have people living on Mars. Probably in the next 10 years. Given several of the propulsion technologies NASA is working on, it probably won't be long til Mars looks like a mere stepping stone to exploring the whole Solar System.
Beyond our Solar System...well, yea....that's where it will get tricky again.

I expect NASA to realise the value of Lunar or orbital shipyards in which they will eventually build huge spacecraft that don't have to struggle to break atmosphere.

Unless we suddenly get exceptionally distracted here on the ground....there's no way we WON'T be mucking about in space on a large scale within the next hundred years.

Little optimistic aren't we? I mean 10 years? Seems a little fast for me. At least next year that satellite that will prospect asteroids for ore will be launched. Tells you something about how much we should fear China when the American private sector is pulling ahead of it by leaps and bounds.

Not really optimistic. Scientific advances are amping up in speed at an absurd rate. I don't mean we'll have regular people living on Mars in 10 years, but -someone-, that's not at all unlikely. Compare our tech now to 10 years ago and we're pretty advanced. Compare it to 14 years ago and we're futuristic. Compare it to the 90's and we're outright sci-fi.

thaluikhain:

Ieyke:
NASA's currently working on plasma engines, force fields, and it's mulling over warp drives.

Mulling over as in thinking about. Not anywhere near getting starting trying to build one.

As in they think it's possible, but they have numerous other types of crazy propulsion systems they're already building, so those are what they're focused on.

thaluikhain:

Ieyke:
With the privatization of space travel and NASA's increasing goal of trips to Mars, it won't be long til we have people living on Mars. Probably in the next 10 years. Given several of the propulsion technologies NASA is working on, it probably won't be long til Mars looks like a mere stepping stone to exploring the whole Solar System.
Beyond our Solar System...well, yea....that's where it will get tricky again.

I expect NASA to realise the value of Lunar or orbital shipyards in which they will eventually build huge spacecraft that don't have to struggle to break atmosphere.

I seriously doubt it...perhaps, if the Chinese got their space program going strongly, they could start another space race. As it is, NASA's glory days are long behind it, the space industry isn't seen as important anymore.

Irrelevant. NASA is strictly handling the exploration for science, space travel is rapidly being taken over by other parties who have the money and motivation to forge ahead. It doesn't matter HOW the innovation happens. If company X solves problem Y, that's just as useful as NASA doing it. Instead of NASA spending all that research money they can just adopt what others have invented. It's basically the "cloud computing" model of space exploration. Break up the work load so that one organization doesn't have to do all the work and suddenly a lot more gets accomplished much faster.

a thousand years ago it would have seemed impossible that you could talk to somebody on the other side of the planet in real time, or seemed impossible to be able to fly, or seemed impossible to vaccinate against diseases. i highly doubt the human race will be extinct in a thousand years time, who knows what could be accomplished.

i have not watched the video, but many things which seem impossible will be proved possible in our lifetimes, why not interstellar travel in the future?

suitepee7:
a thousand years ago it would have seemed impossible that you could talk to somebody on the other side of the planet in real time, or seemed impossible to be able to fly, or seemed impossible to vaccinate against diseases. i highly doubt the human race will be extinct in a thousand years time, who knows what could be accomplished.

i have not watched the video, but many things which seem impossible will be proved possible in our lifetimes, why not interstellar travel in the future?

A thousand years ago? 150 years ago the first two where still true.

hakkarin:
There is one thing you guys are all forgetting: Natural disasters.

Considering how often super disasters have happened over the course of history (super volcanos, asteroids etc) I think those will kill us before we have any chance to get to other planets. It also explains why aliens have never come to us. They died because of disasters before it could happen.

And yet, as you've described yourself, if we keep advancing our ability to survive such disasters will increase.

The farther into the future we get, the more our technology and understanding of the universe progress, the more likely we are to be able to survive and thrive in a wider range of environs.

For that matter, one of the best ways to ensure our species continued survival is to become a multi-planet species.

If something drastic wipes out all life on Earth, it won't be the end of us if we have a colony on Mars.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As for the possibility of interstellar space travel, it's entirely possible. Either through conventional or faster-than-light methods.

The former is more likely a possibility in the near-ish future. The latter, while theoretically possible within our current understanding of physics, may take a weeeee bit longer to figure out.

Either way, I think jumping to the conclusion that it'll never happen is as pointless as saying it'll happen tomorrow.

Sure, you could be right. But you've no quantifiable proof to back up that claim.

And besides, as I said above, based on our current level of knowledge it is possible.

Zontar:
-snip-

A thousand years ago? 150 years ago the first two where still true.[/quote]

too true, a thousand years ago suggesting such things would probably get you burnt at the stake xD

barbzilla:

This is pretty much it here. Once we start mining asteroids, you will start seeing space stations cropping up to house the miners, once that happens, you will eventually see entertainment for them make its way out there, and somewhere way down the line it will become a full fledged colony. Once that happens, you will see more and more crop up, farther and farther away.

Though I do think at some point we will find a more efficient means of travel, I don't see how we could bypass the speed of light, or really find anyway to travel between galaxies inside of one human's lifetime short of some form of stasis chamber with reanimation.

Regarding the means of travel, according to Steven Hawking a warp drive similar to Star Trek is theoretically possible. The real issue is down to power, none of our power sources are capable of producing enough, although if we do learn to harness antimatter then things would change in that regard.

thaluikhain:

NASA's funding has still been severely cut, as it isn't seen as such a priority anymore, though.

Meh, so what? NASA isn't the only space agency. ESA, Russia, Japan etc are all working on these problems and because of their budget cuts NASA has been forced to get their head out of the clouds and start working with other nations more closely (they already did but this is pushing them to do it more). If anything this could be an advantage as it wont just be one organisation with a set mindset working on the problem.

Space travel isn't only possible, it would have already been far more advanced on this planet if we had unified and worked towards that goal together, instead of basically wasting the last 20-30 years. The first, and most important step would be building a decent sized space station around earth which could be used to build objects in space, collect fuel etc. The next step would be making stations on the moon. While we could not colonize the moon (As in ever have a breathable atmosphere there), we could mine on the moon, meaning we could get material for building larger space ships, fuel for them etc, without having to get them outside of the earths atmosphere.

That would allow us to start to colonize our own solar system even without a new form of energy (fusion etc).

Mars does not have the magnetic field to hold a good atmosphere or protect people who are on it's surface, but....it could possible be terraformed a bit, enough to allow larger space stations, more mining and would make a great launching point towards other more habitable places (Titan etc).

If humanity had buckled down, got together, and seriously focused on space exploration, we could already be at that stage by now, and working towards having a second planet (moon) that would support human life.

That is a big deal as it helps protect us from random natural disasters (large comet hits our planet, solar flares etc).

As far as long distance (outside of our solar system) exploration, it's not only possible if we find another source of power, or discover FTL travel, worm holes etc. Technology is already available to the point where, in theory, we could freeze eggs etc and then grow the children (who would have to be raised by computers I guess) once they where near the end of the journey, eventually allowing for humanity to expand once a new home was found (no matter how long it took). Self repairing/recycling systems would be needed, but other then that, it could be done with the information/technology we already have (we would obviously not be able to TELL what happened to the ships though without better technology).

Are we going to ever get there though? I think it's highly doubtful at this point. Technology has advanced to a point where war is too dangerous, while we still have many different governments, many of which are at odds with each other. The focus is still primarily on living life on this planet, and for some crazy reason, expanding the number of humans on this planet. We are using resources up quickly, and playing with fire/disaster if anything happens that wipes out most of humanity. Due to the lack of resources close to the surface, it's highly doubtful we would ever achieve a technological level higher then steam if we did have a serious setback.

I don't give humanity much chance of making it through another century to be honest. I think we have a good 20+ years left of things going mostly like they are now (although there is a decent chance of biological warfare, Nukes, or total anarchy based on lack of resources etc)...before things start going downhill. The dark ages will look like heaven compared to what will happen then, and I don't think we'll ever fully recover.

Well I mean lets get people to stop calling all other planetary systems solar system and we'd be off to a good start.

OT: Seriously though while it may not be possible to achieve travel outside of our little system as of yet I wouldn't say never. Sure there are lots of things that can end us but if it does shit happens if it doesn't we live on Mars.

RicoADF:

barbzilla:

This is pretty much it here. Once we start mining asteroids, you will start seeing space stations cropping up to house the miners, once that happens, you will eventually see entertainment for them make its way out there, and somewhere way down the line it will become a full fledged colony. Once that happens, you will see more and more crop up, farther and farther away.

Though I do think at some point we will find a more efficient means of travel, I don't see how we could bypass the speed of light, or really find anyway to travel between galaxies inside of one human's lifetime short of some form of stasis chamber with reanimation.

Regarding the means of travel, according to Steven Hawking a warp drive similar to Star Trek is theoretically possible. The real issue is down to power, none of our power sources are capable of producing enough, although if we do learn to harness antimatter then things would change in that regard.

Perhaps one day it would be theoretically possible, but with current technology I don't see it. We are closer to finding a way to put the body in stasis than we are to creating a warp drive, and even then it isn't by much. As of current we will be relegated to our own solar system, but I do expect asteroid mining to be a real thing in the next 20 years or so.

One of the things that Arthur C. Clarke talked about in his book "Profiles of the Future" was something called the "failure of nerve". And it is one of the most common things that people subject themselves to whenever an invention seems impossible, they claim it is impossible, but is theoretically possible by all means. The Wright brothers thought their invention wouldn't work by all means. When the automobile was introduced, engineers thought it would be impossible for a car to reach the 'breakneck' speed of 20 mph.

And really, our areas of physics, while still expanding with copious amounts of data than ever before, have only grasped the edge of what is possibly true. Which means that space travel still has not seen its technological limit yet. In addition to this, a small percentage of the national budget is going into scientific or aerospace research. The highest NASA has ever gotten is roughly 4.41% of the national budget, and that was in 1966:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA

If it was 20% (or even 10%) at the moment, we could cover some huge leaps much faster.

All I'm saying is, there's too little information to say for sure that it is impossible for space travel to occur. And, for the most part, we have already touched other planets in a sense. All we need is a way to get there faster with humans. With the human capacity to leap beyond logic and think creatively in the sciences and engineering, I'm sure it'll get there.

Baron_BJ:
OK, I watched the video series that was linked in the OP and read up a little on the equations that were used in it and I'm seeing a few problems with it that I'm certain other people have already addressed at some point in time, but they've not been posted here.

1. The equation speaks of intelligent life, it doesn't matter how intelligent something is if it has no way of using this intelligence, to elaborate I'll point to Dolphins, although they're not as smart as humans they're incredibly intelligent but that doesn't mean shit when you've no fucking hands. Hell, let's just look at humans, for example Stephen Hawking (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Hawkins) is one of the world's greatest minds and scientists, but unfortunately he's not going to be doing much physical lifting if you get what I'm saying. Life has to evolve in extremely specific ways to mean anything. Conversely, even if a species as capable as humanity evolves it has to evolve in an environment where it is capable of being out in the open (I'm phrasing that poorly, but I hope you'll get what I mean) and can flourish. Let's say there's another world where humans exist (meaning we've met the much lower chance of a particular type of creature ever occuring that can make use of a high intellect), but they're primitive, if the planet is far more hostile they may never be able to do more than survive, imagine if people as primitive as cavemen (which didn't really exist since we're essentially 200,000 years old as a species, etc, It's just a shorthand that everyone recognises, just roll with it) were attempting to mine an area but now they're dealing with dinosaurs. With predators like, say, a T-Rex, there's no way to make any stable colonies at such a technological level, the people would have to be nomadic and as such they would not have access to the supplies nor be able to build up a knowledge base to really do much. I was having trouble finding a good way to phrase this, I hope it was at least moderately coherent.

2. It implies that just because a planet is capable of developing life, let alone intelligent life, that it contains the resources necessary for building an advanced civilization. A real world example that you should all look up some time; Do you know the main reason that countries like Africa were very "primitive" until relatively recently in comparison to the rest of the world? Africa has fuck and all when it comes to resources, they've improved because people have since been bringing supplies over from countries that actually have such resources. There's also the distinct possibility that even if the planet DOES have resources they won't have the technology to reach any, for example, perhaps all the planet's metal deposits are too deep underground to reach without mining drills and equipment, drills and equipment which they can't make because they've no metal to make it with because they can't reach the metal to begin with.

3. This is actually a concern I have regarding humanity itself at present. We're quite a wasteful species, because of some people's attitudes we may actually run out of necessary supplies before attaining the necessary technology, there's only so much of everything here, including metals. Yes, we can recycle metals well, but not 100% and yes, there's a LOT of metal here, but there's not an inexhaustible supply. Let's say we reach a scenario where we're running low on metals and ONLY THEN do we as a species refocus our efforts on researching inter-stellar travel, if we don't have the supplies needed to research the technology we need then we'll never be able to make that technology, meaning we're stuck here. This problem is compounded a great deal when coupled with number 2 where the supplies of a potential planet are quite small to begin with, meaning that they would run out much sooner.

There's a few more I can think of, but I think I've made my point, even with the equation, life is rare to the point of absolute hilarity, but with these and I'm sure MANY more points, it's much, much, much rarer still. I would personally guess that there being life as advanced/more advanced/that possess the potential to be as advanced as humanity is rare to the point that it may only exists in maybe as few as 1 in 100 galaxies.

Well #2 is the big one that I tend to be concerned about, especially after listening to Steven Hawking. It's why I have the less than popular opinion that for humanity to survive (and we will need to get out into space to do that) we need to see 90% of our population eradicated and things remain stable around the 10% mark, with everyone organized into one global culture.

As things are now we're running out of resources, environmentalists talk about this all the time. Half our problem is we can't produce enough materials to meet the current needs of the first world and developing nations, never mind those that aren't seriously developing yet. What's more production isn't the problem since there are finite supplies of everything, wood, metal, oil, etc... it replentishes itself, but VERY slowly, and we're rapidly outstripping the planet's ability to provide. Even worse in the race for resources we're literally destroying the planet and it's ability to replentish itself through things like strip mining.

We were warned generations ago that we needed to check the population, and we didn't. World War II gave us a perfect opportunity to set the population to a more reasonable level, but instead we pretty much not only let a Baby Boom happen, but it was encouraged. Now we have even more people than beforehand, and the population as a whole keeps growing every day at a crazy rate. Especially with the push to deal with problems on earth first, by short sighted people we're liable to deplete the resources long before we ever get the world in a state capable of engaging in serious space exploration.

Part of the reason why I use the 90% figure is that such reduction gives everyone plenty of space, and allows everyone to maintain a pretty high standard of living without having any kind of hardcore competition for resources. It also makes it more manageable for a single culture to be set up and maintained, which is perhaps the most important thing. As long as the world remains divided you have to worry about both paranoia and duplication of efforts. Basically with things divided even with two sides, if one side innovates something, it means the other side then takes the time and effort to duplicate the results rather than moving forward onto new things. You wind up slowing things down due to "monkey see, monkey do" and concerns about being left behind. In times of war or direct conflict this can actually speed innovation, but otherwise it tends to lead to stagnation due to little actual pressure. It just means twice as much resources and time invested in anything you set out to do. Not to mention that when it comes to space, the more advanced any space program or technology gets the more trivial it comes to pretty much wipe out earth. Division means inevitable conflict over the sweetest resources and discoveries, which leads to conflict. Even in terms of a "slow travel" in solar system war, all it takes is a conflict over a particularly rich area of the asteroid belt (or in sci-fi terms maybe an alien artifact) and someone to decide to start towing asteroids into orbit and dropping them on the planet in "retaliation" to pretty much kill everyone far more rapidly, and surely than a nuclear was ever would. Humanity will never be totally peaceful, but conflits need to remain small, not on a national/cultural level.

As I see things we can either wait and hope that some great, blameless, catastrophe comes along and wipes out most of the human race, or we can just get it over with and do it ourselves, we're heading towards world war with the conflicts we have no anyway, so a lot of my posts generally come down to the point that it's inevitable so we might as well get it going when we can best control it rather than dragging things out and letting the problems and technology make the potential conflict even worse.

Right now what we kind of need is some equivalent of Watchmen's "Ozymandias" to save us by being the world's greatest villain, unlike in that comic though he'd need to set off World War III rather than acting to prevent it. Kind of Nilistic, but hey... as I always say the world sucks. There is no nice or right way to make the things that need to happen transpire, anything good or positive comes at horrific cost, and all the heroes tend to be huge bastards when you examine them closely enough who happened to be able to write some good retroactive PR. You have to deal with it as it comes.

Ieyke:

thaluikhain:

Ieyke:
NASA's currently working on plasma engines, force fields, and it's mulling over warp drives.

Mulling over as in thinking about. Not anywhere near getting starting trying to build one.

As in they think it's possible, but they have numerous other types of crazy propulsion systems they're already building, so those are what they're focused on.

The issue with propulsion systems that don't sidestep the problems with more conventional spacetravel is that although they are substantially more practical in terms of application - and far more likely to be physically possible - they have an absolute speed limit in the speed of light, and a far lower practical speed limit in terms of impacts.

This was covered tangentially by the always excellent "What If" series - here: https://what-if.xkcd.com/20/. The idea is, after a certain speed it becomes tremendously bad for objects to collide. Even though space is pretty damn empty, there is crap floating around out there - be it dust or small bits of this or that element. At a certain minimum speed, rather than just smacking into the hull (and likely doing noticeable damage), the atoms slam into the hull with so much force that they don't have time to be shoved aside, and undergo fusion with the atoms in the hull, releasing a tiny atomic blast. This wouldn't be so bad, one could presumably just put so much hull on the front end of the ship that it takes most of the trip to burn it all off, but it does limit the maximum speed no matter what. There exists only so much expendable material, and the faster you go the more energy you impart to the hull with each impact.

Based on the article our conventionally accelerated spacecraft would probably be limited to something in the area of a rather discouraging 0.01c, the point noted in the article where air starts to undergo fusion. Based on the math @Asita did earlier in the thread, at best safe speed our shortest trip looks to be around 37,000 years long.

There is still hope for our own solar system, although I can't imagine why anyone would want to live on Mars when we have a perfectly serviceable hell right here on Earth called Antarctica.

hakkarin:
Extra credits did a nice episode where they explain why humanity has not discovered any alien life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF4D4k2AVLA

The first mistake is actually listening to Extra Credits. And the idea that it's too expensive now is like someone in the fifties saying personal gaming devices will never happen because computers are too costly. It may remain too costly, but that's not a guarantee. And the cost-benefit may radically change given the events on earth in the present.

Hell, space travel has been a fairly lucrative field so far, and advancing that frontier could very likely benefit humanity AND our wallets. But that's only if you're not working backwards from a conclusion.

Don't listen to these guys on the subjects they're "experts" on, let alone on the ones they're not. Look up any thorough debunking of "spectrum crunch" and remember these guys actually championed it as a real inevitability.

To the question: I don't know if interplanetary or interstellar travel will ever be a thing. I also know that it's hard to predict what tomorrow will bring. People used to argue it was physically impossible to run a four minute mile. They used to think man would never reach space, period. It used to be inconceivable that we'd need a full MEGABYTE of storage space.

I'm not saying it will happen, just that it's foolish to preclude it on what you got from people who probably don't even have the full current story.

as long as we don't destroy ourselves before hand, I can see us making some kind of ftl tech http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7tU0H6rD-g

I think it'll happen, but I doubt I'll be alive to see it become a practicality.

Technically, we have the ability to do it now, but the people in the ship would pretty much have to not care if they died, because if anything went wrong, that's what would happen.

Anyhoo, if they could create a form of vegetation to help in terraforming and oxygen fixing, that's a great boon, assuming they couldn't create atmosphere in a bubble. Some experimentation was looking at a hybrid of kudzu and algae for just such a purpose.

Then there's the whole creation of space docks, to expedite the process of ship building and such. Personally, I think the biggest trick would be properly escaping Mars' atmosphere. Building without a solid manufacturing process is untenable. Any lack of resources, the away team gets stranded, and help is nearly a decade away.

This is why I deem it unpractical in my lifetime. We just aren't built to have disparate societies that are that far removed from one another. Maybe before the days of Columbus, that might have worked, but not now (even then, the travel distance was still a year, IIRC).

Again, we have the technology to break down the physical barriers, but I don't know that we, individually or as a society, would survive the psychological barriers.

As for near light or FTL travel, I'm not above thinking that some form of tech might defy our current understanding of physics. However, without some great paradigm shift, I find it highly unlikely.

Case in point, there was a big buzz in the early 90's that "cold fusion" might have actually become a reality. Let's disregard the fact that it ultimately failed. Even if success removed all physical barriers, we'd still have been dealing with an inordinate amount of travel time. I somehow doubt that even cold fusion would allow us to approach FTL.

I should also add that I think our space travel will pretty much be limited to Mars, maybe one of the moons of Saturn. Assuming we could somehow figure out a way to make Venus habitable, maybe that planet too. Again, not nearly happening in my lifetime. Travel beyond the solar system isn't happening, IMO, short of some miracle of "Star Trek" or "Mass Effect" level proportions.

the physical and psychological ramifications of space flight removes any possibility of this becoming a reality.
everything you ever knew disappearing for ever out side the port side window would break the minds of 9/10ths of the population.

if they were to go out now and interview every person on the planet, and put them through psych and physical testing I estimate there would be lucky to be 1 million people ready for space flight. Which to me is a pretty good number to begin a colony else where.
I'm not sure of the actual figure, but whats the most people they have sent into space at one time ? 10 ?
so that's 1000 flights. How long does it normally take to prepare a launch ? months ? years ?
Then there is the case of making sure they all head to the same place, space is a big place to get lost in...
Meteor showers, comets, fuel issues, food and water supplies.
so they'd have to set up supply depo's along the way. which is more launches, more cost. Are drones that sophisticated yet that they can set up a depo point ? i doubt it. So that'd be sending more people out to DIE in space to set these points up.
Even with FTL you'd still burn through fuel. I dunno about you but going 100km/h - Mph, tends to chew through my petrol pretty quick. So imagine going FTL...

Looking at what Im saying I think it might be a good idea to try, the world is over populated enough as it is, why not send millions to die out in space to make this kind of thing possible. It'd create jobs here on earth, contracting to build the rockets and what not needed. We'd jettison a vast majority of earths fossil fuels and raw iron out into space. Whats not to lose ?

Credossuck:
With governments and businesses clamping down hard on freedom and creativity, the only future i see is hell holes ala bladerunner or judge dredd.

We wiol never have a brigh future, it will go down in shit and flamey death.

Of course in Bladerunner there are off-world colonies.

There's no way to know for sure. Interstellar travel seems impossible with today's technology, but 100 or so years ago they said man would never fly, and since then we've been to the Moon and back.

What we need is a discovery like a practical warp engine. The prototypes wouldn't be very impressive, but by today's standards the first cars and airplanes look like barely mobile piles of junk. 100 or so years after being invented, warp drive could be cheap, practical, even easy.

Or suppose we invented a way of canceling inertia. Ships could reach .99c quickly and for practically no energy. That might be better than warp drive. Think of all the benefits it could have here on Earth.

Zontar:

Ieyke:
We're already just a stone's throw away from basically every technology in Star Trek.
There's literally nothing in Star Trek that I'm aware of that we're not working on on some level with a fair idea of how to do it.

The only one that currently appears impossible is practical teleportation of people, though we've already achieved teleportation of less useful sorts.

NASA's currently working on plasma engines, force fields, and it's mulling over warp drives.
Not even kidding.

With the privatization of space travel and NASA's increasing goal of trips to Mars, it won't be long til we have people living on Mars. Probably in the next 10 years. Given several of the propulsion technologies NASA is working on, it probably won't be long til Mars looks like a mere stepping stone to exploring the whole Solar System.
Beyond our Solar System...well, yea....that's where it will get tricky again.

I expect NASA to realise the value of Lunar or orbital shipyards in which they will eventually build huge spacecraft that don't have to struggle to break atmosphere.

Unless we suddenly get exceptionally distracted here on the ground....there's no way we WON'T be mucking about in space on a large scale within the next hundred years.

Little optimistic aren't we? I mean 10 years? Seems a little fast for me. At least next year that satellite that will prospect asteroids for ore will be launched. Tells you something about how much we should fear China when the American private sector is pulling ahead of it by leaps and bounds.

Not at all. May I introduce the Mars One Mission: http://www.mars-one.com/

10 years, people on mars. One way trip, but eventually we'll have a colony big enough that we can build things on mars to send back to earth.

I don't know. Technology is advancing quickly and the rate of advancement is accelerating. Not that that changes the laws of physics, but we're not even close to reaching the peak of our technological potential.

Okay, this entire discussion seems to be based on optimism and pessimism.

But ignoring all that, simply put, I personally believe the human race can achieve interstellar travel. And like all things, it'll be a process. Though, the idea the human race needs to "unite" so we can go into space, as noble as it is, isn't necessarily necessary. In terms of global government programs, private corporations, and individual scientific advances, everyone's individual research and development will overall play a role in the human race's advance into space, as well as solving other problems such as energy and perhaps resources. (assuming any work is dedicated in those fields and actually acted upon) Information is already shared, though perhaps not as openly as some would wish.

As for the rest of the human race's problems, such as discrimination, poverty, and white boys getting mad whenever someone suggest that maybe they have an unfair advantage...eh. I mean, it would be dandy if we could somehow sort everything out (and not just push it to the side) but it'll be a long road till it's all sorted out and actually an active part of the major population. Might as well spend some of that learning time in space.

Its a matter of finding the correct energy sources and launching points. You will have trouble getting anywhere fast with liquid propulsion, the real key is going to be is cold fusion possible. If you brought someone from the 18th century here they would think our tech is magic. In 100 years from now the tech that the have may only be explainable to us as something near magical.

Yes, we will one day in the future. Why? The same reason why we do any kind of exploration: greed. One day someone will find a way to make money out there then someone will find away to do it cheaper and so on and so on. Love it or hate it, doesn't matter; it is why we do anything.

Tomorrow? No.
Eventually? Yes.
Best case scenario we will be using small scale warp drives to instantly move in space
Worst case scenario we will be immortal and flying on sub-lightspeed ships.
Worst worst case scenario we will all die out and another sentient civilization that will replace humans will do that.

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