Is interstellar travel doomed to remain in the realm of science fiction? Sticking to near future space propulsion only, how close can we get to the speed of light?
This video looks at the current spacecraft speed records with Apollo 10 holding the record for the fastest manned spacecraft, New Horizons probe for the fastest Earth escape velocity and the Helios probes for the fastest heliocentric velocity. But Solar Probe Plus will beat that when it launches in 2018. While Voyager 1 doesn't set any speed records, it was the first spacecraft to leave the solar system, so therefore the fastest solar system escape velocity by default.
For beating these speeds, this video explores what is possible in the near future only, so no antimatter, Alcubierre drives (warp), ramjets, etc... The EM drive is left out until it's proven with actual reproducible results in space.
Project Daedalus and the updated Project Icarus represent sound concepts for fusion spacecraft. IKAROS was the first successful demonstration of solar sail technology but hopefully the planetary society is not far behind with their LightSail cubsat (not covered in this video).
But what appears to have the most potential to reach the nearest star to our own, Proxima Centauri and it's newly discovered planet Proxima b is Breakthrough Starshot. Thousands of super lightweight laser sail nanocraft will be launched into space then the light beamer, a ground based laser array will propel these spacecraft to 20% light speed within minutes.
*All sources used in researching this video are listed in the end credits*
Music: "Inspired" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License