It all seems so easy in science fiction. Climb into a starship, pull a lever and the next thing you know, you're halfway across the galaxy and looking at another M-class (habitable) planet. If only real life was as fun and easy as "Star Trek." In reality, however, getting out of the solar system takes a
time. Look at the case of Voyager 1. It took the better part of 35 years for it to get out of the solar system using chemical fuels and some gravity assists from the giant planets.
MORE: Is Hawking's Interstellar 'Starshot' Possible?
Philip Lubin, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara's Experimental Cosmology Group, has NASA funding
as well as several papers
published figuring out how to breach the interstellar problem. He also wrote a recent paper outlining a
roadmap to interstellar flight
and is a member of the advisory committee for the
recently announced "Breakthrough: Starshot" initiative
. While his ideas are being tested out in the lab, he figures he can possibly get a mission out the door in 20 to 30 years that would be a precursor to interstellar flight.