I would love to travel in space. I don’t mean ride with the cosmonauts to the ISS space travel; I mean Millennium Falcon, visiting planets, shooting lasers space travel. I don’t think there are aliens on other planets, but it could be possible. We also have no guarantee that life on other planets would be sentient life (it could be just plant life).
We need a different way to get to space, fossil fuels aren’t cutting it. Petroleum products are too heavy. Some are suggesting suborbital stations; this is good, but not great. See a suborbital station would be an intermediate point between the ground and outer space. The pull of gravity is much stronger on the Earth’s surface than it is at the level of low Earth orbit. Equipment for manufacturing diamond filament could be taken to the orbiting platform, assembled, and used to create a tether/elevator for hauling equipment up without using (as much) fuel.
Once in space there is negligible friction (you’re traveling in a vacuum), so you basically keep going at the same speed in the same direction until you either hit something or change it. The problem is things are very far away from each other. It is also difficult to travel too fast; there is a lot of small debris that could cause punctures in the hull of your craft. We need to devise a machine that produces a shield that incinerates everything the moment it touches, that is the only way “hyper” travel speeds (like those seen in Star Wars and Star Trek) could be achieved.
Stations that could propel a craft and slow it down at specific locations would be very useful. This would establish specific routes and allow for traffic monitoring as well as address fuel/speed issues.
The end goal of course would be colonization. If there is a place (planet, moon, asteroid, or some other celestial body) that could support life it would be really cool. A whole host of social issues would go along with that, those can be explored in another post. Communication would be very important. Video and audio would need to be near-instantaneous from one settlement to another. Infrastructure would have to be in place before “normal” people could live there, similar to the TV show Terranova, scientists and (maybe) enforcement personal would probably be the first to settle a new world.
I think it is possible though; I think it is very real that in the next 100 years humans (from Earth) could have permanent settlements on the Moon, Mars, or another place.