The farthest place in space that humans have travelled to is the Moon, which is 230,000 miles away from Earth. It is really not that far at all in relative to the entire solar system. The Apollo astronauts visited the moon 6 times between 1969 and 1972, and no one has gone back since.
The record held for the farthest away from Earth any human has ever been is 248,655 miles. Apollo 13, three astronauts (who barely made it home) circled the moon 158 miles above its surface on the side facing away from the planet. The United States and Japan are planning on making more trip to the moon in 2020. We’ll see…
Mars is the oft-discussed next frontier of manned exploration. However, critics point to NASA’s current “lack of direction” and inconsistent funding, and argue that such a mission is a long time coming. However, in October of last year there was a lot of discussion over the “Hundred Year Starship” program, whereby NASA (funded in part by DARPA) hopes to send a manned mission to Mars by 2030 and leave them there (forever!) to become the first colonists. Much of the costs associated with a mission to Mars apparently stem from the difficulty in returning the astronauts home, and a permanent colony would resolve this. Hopefully in the next few decades, we’ll see progress in this area.
An artist’s conception of a Martian colony:
Well, as Hovers pointed out, it seems that space colonization may be a reality some day. It has been identified as the ultimate goal of the current spaceflight programs. Here is a quote from NASA Administrator Michael Griffin taken in 2005: “… the goal isn’t just scientific exploration … it’s also about extending the range of human habitat out from Earth into the solar system as we go forward in time … In the long run a single-planet species will not survive … If we humans want to survive for hundreds of thousands or millions of years, we must ultimately populate other planets. Now, today the technology is such that this is barely conceivable. We’re in the infancy of it. … I’m talking about that one day, I don’t know when that day is, but there will be more human beings who live off the Earth than on it. We may well have people living on the moon. We may have people living on the moons of Jupiter and other planets. We may have people making habitats on asteroids … I know that humans will colonize the solar system and one day go beyond.”
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