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Michael Neufeld at the Lemelson Center's Moving Beyond Earth Symposium

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Published on Jun 26, 2012

In his overview of the history of human spaceflight, Michael Neufeld chronicled our collective space travel fantasies from Lucian of Samos to Cyrano de Bergerac and beyond, highlighting the work of such early visionaries as Ganswindt, Tsiolkovskii, Esnault-Pelterie, and Robert Goddard. Ballistic missiles, however, proved to be the foundation for space access, while the Space Shuttle, sometimes called "the DC-3 of space," functioned for decades as our main access to low-earth orbit. Today, private corporations and private-government collaboration are issuing in a new era of suborbital tourism and promises of a replacement for the Shuttle. Still, launch costs remain a drag on space travel development and chemical rocket technology may be nearing its limits. What's next?

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