“Earth is the cradle of humanity, but it is impossible to live forever in the cradle”
Interstellar flight is a human journey, even if we never get off this planet.
As long as people have been gazing into the night sky, we’ve wondered: “what’s out there?” When we learned those stars were other suns with other worlds around them, we wanted to go there. Even today, with no starships at our docks, the allure is strong. It is in our science fiction. It is in our folklore about alien expectations. It is in our soul to wonder about our place in the Universe.
Getting there is another matter, which includes both technical challenges and human factors – the influence from, and on, society. If our culture perceives star flight to be too far, too expensive, or simply irrelevant, then humanity will be stuck here no matter what technology could achieve.
It is hoped that this pursuit will give people something positive to work toward.
How will humanity's views change when:
Starflight will enable humanity to advance beyond our solar system, opening vast opportunities never before possible.
It will also raise profound questions:
Will humanity establish homesteads beyond Earth before going extinct on Earth?
Today, we do not have solid estimates to compare the pace of our progress to how much time we have left on Earth. Provisional estimates suggest that we are still two centuries away from star flight at our current rate of advancement [Millis 2010]. On the other hand, we have 500 million years before life on Earth is certain to end [Dorminey 2010], but several risks already exist today (doomsday asteroids, calderas, disease and famine, climate change, over-population, war, etc.).
What will it take to accelerate our progress toward living beyond our planet, and decelerate the rate at which we are risking our own extinction?
Accelerating Starflight Progress
Decelerating Extinction Risks