An astrophysicist has claimed that humans could be living in a mega-colony in space in as little as 15 years' time.
The stunning timeframe has been suggested by Dr Pekka Janhunen, an astrophysicist at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, in Helsinki.
In a research paper published this month, Dr Janhunen says humans could be living on floating orbs in the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter within the next 15 years.
According to the scientist, humans will be able to settle on floating "mega-satellites" around the dwarf planet Ceres, about 325 million miles from Earth (which some may not see as far enough away).
"The motivation is to have a settlement with artificial gravity that allows growth beyond Earth's living area," Dr Janhunen wrote in his research paper, in which he lays out the blueprint for these "mega-satellites".
While most previous theories about human settlements in space pointed towards Mars or the moon - mostly due to distance from Earth - Dr Janhunen's theory is different, in which it would see humans settling a lot further out.
The astrophysicist proposes disk-shaped settlements, with thousands of cylindrical structures, able to house 50,000 people.
The floating mega-satellites would be linked by powerful magnets and, according to the scientist, would be able to generate gravity with their own slow rotation.
He also says those inhabitants would potentially be able to mine resources from the dwarf planet Ceres and use "space elevators" to carry them back to their "pods".
"Lifting the materials from Ceres is energetically cheap compared to processing them into habitats, if a space elevator is used," he wrote in his paper.
"Because Ceres has low gravity and rotates relatively fast, the space elevator is feasible."
He believes the area is the best location for a human settlement, due to its nitrogen-rich atmosphere.
In his research paper, published earlier this month and yet to be peer-reviewed, Dr Janhunen looks into the obstacles to his theory, including the time it takes to travel to Ceres - a Nasa probe sent in 2015 took eight years to get there - and the energy needed to lift building materials from the dwarf planet.