One thousand years. That is the minimum length of time it would take us to get to the nearest star — Proxima Centauri — using current methods. But since we discovered that this star houses a potentially habitable planet, scientists have been more enthusiastic about the idea of interstellar travel than ever before.
“It’s tantalizing,” Guillem Anglada-Escude, who led the research team that discovered the planet, said in an interview with NPR. “Now that we know the planet is there, we can be more creative. We can think about solutions — maybe to send interstellar probes or to design specific spacecraft to look for this planet.”
Still, the 4.2 light-years that stretch between us and Proxima Centauri represent a daunting distance for space explorers. It may take us a while to come up with those solutions. So we asked Futurism readers when they thought the first human will leave our solar system.
Not very soon, it seems. The option that received the most votes by far was 2100 or later — this was the choice of about 35 percent of respondents. As respondent Charles Hornbostel explained, “With human exploration of Mars expected no earlier than the 2025-30 time frame, it is reasonable to expect humans will not have reached the orbits of Neptune and Pluto by century’s end, barring any breakthroughs in exotic propulsion technology.”