I suppose people have thought about the prospect of reaching the stars since the beginning of human existence. We really do not want to hear that it might not be possible.
Realistically, however, it should never happen. Although there are approximately 10 trillion billion stars in the universe, the Sun is the only star in our solar system. It sits about 93 million miles from Earth, and just to put things into perspective, the moon is a mere 250,000 miles away.
Interplanetary travel is certainly possible. Man has already gone to the moon, and unmanned vehicles have landed on Mars.
The Voyager 1 space probe left Earth in 1977, and has traveled beyond Jupiter and Saturn. In space travel terms, that means nothing. The ship could have gotten a propulsion boost from Saturn’s gravity and headed for Pluto, but for scientific benefit, the craft’s trajectory was re-directed toward Titan, Saturn’s gigantic moon. If all goes well, Voyager 1 will approach the heliopause, or the separation between our solar system and interstellar space within a couple of years.
Here lies the problem. Should that occur the craft would be on its own, without power, going nowhere. In order to reach the next closest star to Earth, Alpha Centauri, some 4.3 light years away, it would require all the power of the entire planet Earth, plus the mining of all the power of the rest of the planets in our solar system, all converted to fuel and put into one ship. Not likely. However, if that were even possible, it would then take 50,000 years to get there.
So could it be done, perhaps with alternative-propulsion systems not yet invented? Doubtful. Even in the wildest imaginations of the top scientists in the world, it is not feasible.
Scientists and archeologists believe humans first appeared on the planet in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago during the Middle Paleolithic period. About 70,000 years ago, humans began to leave Africa, and spread to Asia and Europe some 40,000 years ago, eventually reaching the Americas about 15,000 years ago. In that time, homo sapiens populated to 7 billion, and especially in light of the dawn of nuclear weapons, have done little to move in a direction suggesting longevity. It is highly unlikely we can survive as a species long enough to even begin the first steps toward discovering a sufficient non-science fiction source of rocket power.
Now, I know all about Columbus, Magellan, and Neil Armstrong. Yet, human experience thus far has not prepared us enough to grasp the concept of an infinite universe. We most likely will never leave our solar system. Since the next galaxy beyond our Milky Way is 2 million light years away, man will never arrive there. Our universe is only 14 billion years old, and it would take us longer than that to reach it. That’s one heck of a lifespan.
So maybe the moral of this story is to improve human conditions on our minute speck of property we call a planet, before we cease to exist. We will not leave this region of the universe anyway.
Of course, human beings always say it can’t be done, until it can.