Can jet packs be far behind?

Published 11:10 pm Wednesday, October 6, 2004

By Staff
Our View
Score one more for science and technology – and the entrepreneurial spirit. For the second time in a week, a private rocket ship slipped through the surly bonds of earth and her atmosphere into space, streaking up at three times the speed of sound.
The trip SpaceShipOne made netted its team $10 million – and may have brought us closer than some ever thought to space tourism.
But some people, fueled as much by practical science as by fantastic dreams, have been dreaming of that day. And the ingenuity behind SpaceShipOne, coupled with the capitalist drive of the $10 million Ansari X Prize, makes for yet another uniquely American achievement.
If the original space race was driven in large part by national pride, this one is more akin to the spirit of adventure in the first Kitty Hawk flights or the Orteig Prize, which Charles Lindbergh claimed after making his first solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927.
To be sure, this kind of space travel for private citizens will be available only to the very privileged for a while. Richard Branson has announced plans to offer flights into space for $200,000 fares beginning in 2007.
But even for the rest of us, that promise of flight can lead to dreams of what might be just around the corner.
Science has seen some incredible achievements in recent months – NASA's trip to Mars, for one – and we all benefit not only from the knowledge gained but also from the future projects they inspire.

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