Stated Goal #3 of Sparkpunk, April 2012: Leave Earth. And then come back. Safely. Fingers crossed.
I've wanted to go to outer space since I was a kid who knew what outer space was. Of course, as a kid I also wanted to be a professor (a very specific job title for a six-year-old), because in my mind, a professor was someone who mixed chemicals in beakers until they either (a) changed colors, (b) started steaming, or (c) blew up the entire lab, only to rebuild it and scrawl onto the miraculously-intact clipboard: do not mix the green stuff with the orange stuff.
Accidentally blowing up labs lost its appeal once I discovered that the "boom powder" they used in Looney Tunes was actually a real-world thing called dynamite, but outer space never lost its appeal. Star Wars, science museums, and the Discovery Channel fueled a keen interest in the final frontier, but for some strange reason I never set out to be an astronaut. The desire to go way up, however, hasn't gone away.
If these were the days of the Jetsons or Buck Rodgers, a goal like Go to Outer Space! would seem as illustrious as a backwoods moonshiner aspiring to one day "go to the big city." But alas, we're still crawling out of the Flintsones' cave when it comes to physical applications of the theoretical principles of interstellar travel and warp drive. Sure, the math is there (hint: the number y0u've been l00king f0r is up0n y0u), but until the split factions of government and science start working together again, we're going to have to rely on good old-fashioned nonrenewable jet fuel to get us into orbit…or Mars, if you only want to go there on a one-way ticket…
Despite all this, though, the private market is making tremendous strides towards shooting a handful of John & Jane Q. Publics out past the stratosphere, where the lack of gravity will make the results of their motion sickness glob together in perfect little spheres. SpaceX, while not explicitly a passenger program, has made incredible progress in propulsion and rocket design, and Virgin Galactic is putting the finishing touches on its commercial fleet, including the aerial launch units. And let's not forget one of 2012's most momentous feats in human achievement: Felix Baumgartener's historic fall from space:
The day of the Jetsons is still a long way off, but civilian space travel isn't the pipe dream it once was.
I mean hell, if Ashton Kutcher can go to space, I'd better get out my NASA onesie.