Jewish World Review Oct. 12, 2004 / 27 Tishrei, 5765
The X Prize
All of us got a glimpse of the future last week when a privately funded spacecraft made a return trip to the edge of Earth's atmosphere. Designer Dick Rutan and his team won the $10 million dollar X Prize by breaking the 40-year government monopoly on manned space travel. And they did it for about what NASA spends on its annual catering bill.
Suddenly it's clear that twenty years from now, tourists will likely be able to book a commercial flight to space.
But what about a flight to Cleveland? As it happens, I flew to Cleveland for the vice presidential debate. It was not a space aged experience. The plane was a turbo prop, cramped, loud and slow. As we bounced over the Great Lakes, it struck me: this is how people must have traveled 50 years ago. Why are we still doing it?
The point, of course, is that domestic air travel hasn't kept pace with the rate technological innovation that has transformed our world for the better. And it should. Planes aren't just a convenience. They're an engine of our prosperity. They bring families together. They connect our country. There's a reason terrorists target them. Airplanes are a symbol of what it is to be American.
So maybe it's time a group of ambitious geniuses set about rethinking the humble 727. Sure it'd be great to go to the moon. But until you can fly from New York to LA in an hour and a half, comfortably at a decent price, it's hard to say we're making real progress.
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JWR contributor Tucker Carlson is a journalist, college instructor, public speaker and host and managing editor of the PBS show "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered." His first book is "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News."(Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
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© 2004, Tucker Carlson