Yes, private spaceflight is taking off, thanks to the beneficent largesse of people like Paul Allen. Wired (January, 2005) plugs into the topic and dives into some of the issues I raised here in October 2004 when ebullient British billionaire and international man of action Richard Branson and his dynamos pitched Virgin Galactic to the world by regaling us with the fact that the whole venture was "oversubcribed."
Actually, it is important if you are pondering participating (come up with $200,000 first, just sell your house or if you live in the Bay Area or the sunnier, palmier part of California just get a small loan out against your inflated home value, you know: termite infested shack, overgrown postage-stamp yard, original "classic" shag rug, price: $1.2 million) to improve and maintain your cognitive performance and reaction, similar to what pilots and astronauts undergo.
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer true..."
I know in my case when considering the decline of manned space flight, it is disappointing to look back at the last Apollo mission and barely remember it, and recall the Space Shuttle as a new project they talked about in kindergarten. Somewhere, like Keir Dullea in 2001: A Space Odyssey and his jogging across the widescreen we came off the track, even with with the successes of the Mars Rover program. As it stands now, the artificial brains still must relay information to the human brains who interpret the findings otherwise it is merely data with no context..
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