A manned flight to Mars is more possible than ever before, so it’s not hard to imagine a day when humans will explore the rest of the solar system, or even the galaxy. But according to the Planetary Society's founding executive director Louis Friedman, humans won’t make it past the red planet, not necessarily because they won’t be able to, but because they won’t need to. "It won’t be us there physically," he says in a video for Scientific American. "It’s human robotic synergy that explores the universe."

His vision for the future of space exploration involves sending robotic probes to distant planets, and then using virtual reality technologies to "visit" these extraterrestrial worlds without ever leaving Earth. At the same time, he sees a rich history in store for humans on Mars. It took humankind thousands of years to settle the Earth, so according to him we’ll have plenty of work to do on Mars before we’re ready to move on to the next planet. You can read more of Friedman’s thoughts on human space travel in his new book Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars, and watch the full video above.

Banner image courtesy of iStock.

[h/t Scientific American]