Here’s a short guide to visiting extraterrestrial life:
– Figure out how not to die: Shouldn’t be too hard, our civilization is simply too ignorant – we barely started learning a thing or two about biology. We didn’t even know how many protein coding genes we have: The Human Genome Project thought they were a 100,000 genes only a few years ago! The modern computer must have seemed utterly unattainable a technology barely a few hundred years ago.
– Prevent / Survive internal shocks: Nuclear war, extreme environmental degradation, shocks to the global climate & ecosystem. As long as crops survive our civilization should be fine. Massive starvation tends to disrupt things. You can’t eat computers, and crops are surprisingly difficult to replace by any other kind of technology but farming.
– Create defenses against external shocks: Supernova explosions, comets and large asteroids. Supernova are probably harder to protect against. Best option might be to use the world itself as a shield, and hope that a small group will survive.
– Figure out near-light speed travel: We don’t actually need to go at light-speed, near-light should be possible. Regenerative shielding to protect against the repetitive tear & wear of interstellar travel might be the hardest part. Make sure to bring entertainment. Nuclear energy should be sufficient for our extra-energy efficient space ship.
– Visit planetary systems at red-dwarf habitable zones: They simply stick around for longer as stars due to the slow fusion rate. The downside is less energy production and smaller habitable belts. Thus one might want to make exceptions for particularly promising Sun-like systems as well.
… or, they might just find us first.