Originally Posted By: Momos
"Unmanned travel to other star systems is well within current technology, so long as you're not in a rush to get there."

Well, I'm not very patient. So is the public, which has to do the funding.

Sad, but true...

Originally Posted By: Momos
I guess an unmanned probe (possibly a fly-by) would have a chance if the target is interesting enough and the necessary amount not to big.

Not to mention the most practical. People need a lot of support equipment to survive, machines generally do not. So a lot of the mass issues become less when talking about unmanned missions.

Originally Posted By: Momos
My initial interest in this topic is the question if it is entirely impossible to get to the nearest star system broadly within the lifespan of a human.

With current tech I doubt it, but I'd bet some of the proposals out there could do it in the near-ish future (assuming enough money is spent on the R&D side of things).

Originally Posted By: Momos
"laser powered solar sails" have several advantages, but the main disadvantage would be the political ramifications of Multi-Terrawat-Lasers in space.

Stupid politics, getting in the way of our fun smile

Originally Posted By: Momos
So far the only remotely feasible concept, given my wishes, seems to be nuclear pulse propulsion.
However I calculate the needed masses/energies are always to big.

Did you look into some of the other techs like VASIMR? I believe they get ISP's similar to that (maybe even better) than that of orion.