...As The Future Belongs To The Fearless

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That's not to say the success of space tourism is assured. From the start, the FAA has emphasized that its primary responsibility when it comes to regulating private spaceflight is to protect "the uninvolved public" on the ground and in the air. Although Rutan's system seems simple and stable enough to assure safety, the scary "rolling" moment in last week's flight reminded everyone that the endeavor remains a risky one. Fears exist that a live-on-camera accident could have a Hindenburg-like effect on the future of private spaceflight. Case in point: Of the almost 190,000 Web users who responded to a CNN online poll this week, 82 percent said space travel is not yet safe enough for the general public. See also AVweb's coverage of Monday's flight, the X Prize Cup and at least one free ticket to space (our report was published Monday afternoon). The proponents of space tours may feel that's not a problem -- let the naysayers stay home. They have more than enough willing passengers who are not afraid of the risks. Richard Branson says he already has 5,000 takers who indicate they're willing to put up the money for the ride of a lifetime.