After winning the $10 million Ansari X-Prize in 2004, Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne concept was adopted by Sir Richard Branson and developed into a fully viable passenger space vehicle launched from the belly of a mother aircraft. Virgin Galactic is aiming to begin passenger operations in late 2011 or early 2012, but at $200,000 a pop it isn't going to make it into that many Christmas stockings in the first year. Maybe year two... here's hoping.
Things are definitely moving forward in the Human Spaceflight department. Slowly, deliberately, but still forward. Let's just hope it takes off (pun intended) and is a commercial success so the cost can be brought down to a level where us pleb Spacers can have a go!
Happy Dreaming, Spacers!
Image credit: Virgin Galactic