..since when on these boards does a straight statement of fact direct from an episode count for anything in an argument??
Indeed. They could be lying bastards all, these "character" folks.
But there's no way a manned mission taking that long would ever be approved, even with cryogenic technology, because of the risk of cumulative radiation exposure. A manned mission to Saturn would have to wait for faster propulsion methods or a highly propitious planetary alignment.
Or for the development of shielding technology. Which was supposedly part of the Charybdis
mission, by Okudagram accounts anyway. Going by "Space Seed", it would seem that by the first decades of the 21st century, we had propulsion and cryosleep down pat for a multi-decade crewed mission and were making good progress with shielding - but the window for such a mission was a narrow one, terminated by the invention of better propulsion. Going by Spaceflight Chronology
, though, Christopher's ship had performance comparable to that of Ares IV, and wouldn't have needed years upon years (let alone cryogenics) to reach Saturn.
One wonders what sort of stories could be told of the earliest interstellar exploits of this UESPA bunch, or of other early Earth attempts and successes and failures before Starfleet came to being. The potential for stories that could be told without interfering with other Trek "projects" would be greater back when ships would be slowly crawling in interstellar isolation.
So far, we don't canonically know even the story of mankind's first intentional interstellar flight. Theoretically, it could have been a sublight one, initiated long before WWIII and completed before Cochrane could get his act together. One would assume that there would have been a lot of competition before the war, rather than a concerted effort overseen by something like UESPA...