Movies like Interstellar or Star Trek would like to depict the ability to travel between stars, at speeds faster than light, as a technology which would revolutionize society and our everyday life, but if in the very near future, we discover some way of building spaceships capable of traveling faster than light, I was wondering if it would have any lasting and drastic effects on society, politics and everyday life within a decade or so.
Of course how FTL technology would change society would depend on a few assumptions; these are what I consider the most realistic assumptions (updated in response to some comments or answers):
I assume that newly invented FTL would be expensive, short ranged and relatively slow:
- The first interstellar spaceship would cost a lot, initially I said at least twice as much as the ISS to build and fuel, (though as pointed out it could be much more), since we don't know what the technology would look like, we can't tell the price, but it would undoubtedly be very high.
- initially i said, that it would not be reusable, because i was thinking about an unmanned ship with exactly enough fuel to fly to a neighboring star, some answers did however point out that the technology may only be used within our solar system, in that case it would possibly be able to refuel and reuse a ship a few times, but that would both be expensive, and the ship would not last indefinitely.
- it would at most be able to travel ten light years or so (due to limited energy storage capacity, this may change slightly if more resource is done, but don't expect to travel around the galaxy any time soon)
- it would be able to travel at most three times lightspeed (and communication would be exactly lightspeed (of course you could send another FTL spaceship back and forth with messages, but I do think that would be way to expensive, therefore I think the very first FTL spaceship would simply use radiosignals))
Space mining, and colonization in other solar systems would be just as expensive and difficult as in this solar system. (Some answers and comments have pointed out that this may reduce the travel costs, and with faster transportation the need to store resources on for instance a martian colony, and depending on wether the price of FTL is 2 times that of ISS or 10000 times that of ISS, it may be true that the price of space mining would drop somewhat, but both colonizing Mars or planets in other solar systems would still be expensive)
There is probably not life on any planets within the 10 light year range from us.
FTL technology would only allow us to travel in space faster than light, and would not for instance double as an infinite power source or a super-weapon, (or rather, an FTL ship could, as pointed out by Momarcil, also be used as a weapon, but what I meant was that for the first several decades, FTL would be so expensive, that ordinary nuclear weapons still would be a better investment). I also initially stated that the technology couldn't simultaneously make time travel happen, but as Fabbe pointed out, FTL may inevitably lead to time travel; but the method for time travel he outlined would require quite a lot control of the ship (so that it could first go the one way, then accelerate to 10% the speed of light, and go the other way), and for the first few decades after the invention, I don't think FTL spaceships could do that. Of course they may later be able to travel in time, but that wouldn't be one of the first effects it would have if invented tomorrow
Finally, FTL technology would, of course, keep evolving, but this will happen rather slowly, and the problems of the technology mention in point 1. would take several decades (and a lot of money) to overcome
Finallier (in response to comment: what is the effective minimum range for this FTL technology? from Mooing Duck), while I don't think there would be a technologically defined minimum range for FTL travel, I do think there is a distance below which the first FTL technology is to expensive to use compared to alternatives, that includes (probably) any shipping on earth, and (possibly) also surface to space and space to surface transportation (In the future this may change, but this question is concerned about what would when the very first FTL technology was discovered). It is quite possible that, as several comments and answers have claimed, FTL would be able to reduce travel time, and (depending on the technology) to some extend cost of interplanetary travel.
I am of course well aware that FTL technology would be a great scientific breakthrough, but in the case this question, I only want to know if the life of the average human, and human politics in general, would change notably or at all, because that ultimately is what decides whether or not the governments of the world would even want to invest in building and researching FTL spaceships.
Specifically I am wondering if faster than light interstellar travel would have the same fate as Moon landings of the 1970s; which lost funding as soon as the public lost interest.
Or if interstellar travel, – just like the launch of the Sputnik started the age of satellite communication – would mark the beginning of a new age.
Requirements for answers
FTL travel tends to generate some opinion based questions and answers, and therefore this question has nothing to do with whether or not it is possible, or what forms it would take if possible, it is only about the effects on society and therefore I only want answers concerning how society would react, not why FTL travel is not possible.
Furthermore I want answers, which based on historical parallels, and/or the political situation of today's world, or logically argues whether or not FTL technology would cause notable change to society.