Virgin Galactic made its first crewed low orbital flight 15 July 2010.
For about $200,000, you too could experience space flight.
As outlined in President Obama's FY 2011 NASA budget request, the plan calls for the space agency to shift its focus from near-term human exploration missions to longer-term research and technology development.
There are some jewels here:
- Nano-Satellite Launch to send small satellites (with mass between 1-10 kg) into Earth orbit, twice in one week.
- Night Rover to develop a solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate in darkness using stored energy.
- Sample Return Robot to build a robot that can locate and retrieve geological samples.
I am hopeful that this gathering of information by robots will eventually lead to manned exploration of space. Call it the Star Trek fan in me. I have a vivid memory of my Saturday morning cartoons being "interrupted" by Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin.
We sadly, list any shuttle launch as passing fancy, like weather reports unless something severe has occurred. I think we take for granted that less than six decades from flight in my home state of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk, we were literally walking on another world! And our world has not been the same since.