“An American scientist has made a remarkable conceptual breakthrough, a design for a non nuclear relativistic launcher, capable of accelerating thousands of deep space probes per year to 0.25C; fast enough to reach the nearest stars in 15 years. The system is extremely scalable – you could start with a small, low cost proof of concept launcher, and work up to bigger devices, capable of launching substantial probes into interstellar space. The system also has a practical alternative use – the full size version is powerful enough to deflect dangerous asteroids into safer orbits.”
“In addition to larger spacecraft, some capable of transporting humans, we consider functional spacecraft on a wafer, including integrated optical communications, optical systems and sensors combined with directed energy propulsion. Since “at home” the costs can be amortized over a very large number of missions. In addition the same photon driver can be used for planetary defense, beamed energy for distant spacecraft as well as sending power back to Earth as needed.”
We could do this now – no new technology is required. Just the will to do it.