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The future of manned space exporation is bright, according to some space experts.

Humans may one day tread across some of the alien worlds that today can be studied only at a distance. Closer to home, private industries like Mars One seek to establish a permanent settlement on the Red Planet. At the Smithsonian Magazine's "The Future is Here Festival" in Washington, D.C. this month, former astronaut Mae Jemison and NASA engineer Adam Steltzner spoke optimistically about the future of manned space exploration.

"Exploration and the curiosity that motivate it are fundamentally human," Steltzner said during the conference. [Gallery: Visions of Interstellar Starship Travel]

Given the current glacial pace of advanced propulsion research and development, this is likely not to happen in a thousand years. We need to step way outside the box and run with it. To read more, click here.