The video of Austrian Felix Baumgartner jumping from a balloon capsule 23 miles above earth was one of those water cooler moments. Everyone was talking about how someone could survive falling thorough space at more than 800 miles per hour. This massive undertaking was not sponsored by government funds, but by private dollars.
With the retirement of the space shuttle program it had seemed Americans had lost interest exploring space. But it appears at least the private sector is still much connected to exploring the heavens.
Baumgartner risked his own life to prove that man himself could break the speed of sound. In his free fall thorough space he broke a previous height record set some fifty years ago.
On a less thrilling but still historical note, a private company working with NASA has successfully launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station to deliver supplies.
If these two events are any indication we will see more and more private enterprise involved in space exploration. This does not mean the end of NASA or our local test facility, but just a different role as space becomes more of a commercial venture.
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WLOX-TV General Manager
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