The US, UK, and China have been up to some mind-boggling science and engineering involving propulsion systems:Evaluating NASA's Futuristic EM Drive
What took Apollo astronauts 2.5 or so days to do, would take an EM Drive-equipped craft four hours. A trip to Mars has been estimated to take 18 months or so, with an initial launch window that comes around every two years. An EM Drive would get you there in 90 days.
Want to go to Saturn to check out Titan and Enceladus? It will take you 9 months to go out that far, instead of 8 or so years.
And most amazing of all--to reach Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to ours at 4.3 light years, with cutting-edge ion drive technology, would take 81,000 years.
With an EM Drive, it would take 130
years. Too long for any human crew--at least if it wasn't a generation ship
(and all the hurdles that entails)...but well within the bounds of an autonomous robotic exploration. 130 years may be just beyond the current maximum human lifetime, but not so for a civilization, and just knowing that detailed data from planets around another star could be in our collective hands 134 years after launch is a powerful motivating factor.
There are those who are skeptical
, and rightly so for any scientific endeavor, but just the possibility of such a propulsion unit sets the mind to working on such amazing possibilities...