What will get humans into space?

Lets say you were set in charge of guiding humanity into space. Well not totally in charge, as you have your boss - so your options are limited. But your boss is very powerful as she is a genie and willing to give you 1 of 2 options to get this done:

1 - Unlimited clean energy for our entire planet, this could be He3 from the moon to semistable natural antimatter trap discovered in the rings of Jupiter (yes Jupiter has rings). The method or location does not matter as long as it’s possible and cost effective given the benefit

2 - Discovery of complex life on a planet or moon

You do get option 3 which means it’s time to man or woman up, your job is on the line so select either option 1 Energy or 2 Life. For you sake I have not included option 3 in the polls, yet you are allowed to state you case to your boss otherwise.

Is the universal translator broken again?

Probably option 1 due to the economic benefits. But it could be option 2 since it would be important to go and kill the little buggers before they came for us.

A powerful rocket has been the usual means so far.

Greed and money. The energy would get us there so we could control distribution.

Life on another planet would get NASA lots of funding but we’d be slow and cautious about contamination so it’s wouldn’t be a boon for anyone but astronaut scientists and their support industry. If we found life on a Jovian moon we’d send probes but Jupiter is really far away and a much harsher environment than the space around Mars. It’d take decades and decades for much progress to be made and much longer than that before we could contemplate sending even a small group of people out there.

We already have unlimited clean energy from the sun, but ground based energy is cheaper than space based solar power for now. If it magically became cheaper I like to think we’d be all over it, and we could do it much more quickly than doing much of anything out around Jupiter.

Technically speaking, we already live in space.