Distances in space are vast and the perennial question is can we span those distances in reduced time and in a way that does not cost much in fuel and resource? No answers from me on this but just the question as I read an article on Ars Technica on planet formations. What if scientists had observational equipment much closer in proximity to the celestial bodies of interest? Now imagine if the process of getting there was more efficient. Perhaps there are bold ambitions that could be outlined as to the types of conveyance mechanisms (do not assume it involve engines), materials, and operating conditions necessary to meet the overall objective: getting to a certain point sooner.
I would assume though that if it is possible, science will reveal a way but it may occur in a time period on the order of centuries rather than decades. Also, combustion and chemical based fuel propulsion methods are definitely out of the question. Scientists including those specializing in theoretical fields are exploring a range of concepts. I believe there are experiments being considered that will improve our understanding of what may be feasible given our current level of understanding. Yet, I wonder about a much bolder path that looks at this question and perhaps incorporates study of the concept of time.
What if we focused our scientific exercise in a way that was much more definitive and safe at the same time? I am thinking about unmanned or remotely operated mechanisms that conduct experiments, run trials, and operate a full research area in Space itself. What if the investment was made to establish an automated laboratory, test, and research framework in Space. The derivative scientific, engineering, and technological excess generated could prove tremendously useful here on Earth as the main question is being answered as we simultaneously make our way towards much needed terrestrial reconstruction.