Inventor: Jeff Greason, Xcor Aerospace
Senator John Glenn is not the only civilian who would enjoy rocketing into space, but chances are the rest of us won't be hitching a ride on a space shuttle anytime soon. We'll have to wait until private companies can take us there. Jeff Greason of Mojave, Calif., has done his part by creating the first low-cost, reusable rocket engines. Greason's EZ-Rocket prototype, which took flight this fall, is powered by twin engines that burn isopropyl alcohol and liquid oxygen to generate 400 lbs. of thrust. Greason's engines should be able to carry passengers 65 miles above the earth, too low to go into orbit but high enough to give space tourists a spectacular view of the planet. Greason estimates that planes powered by his engines could someday cost as little as $900 per flight to operate. The planes would cost as much as a Lear jet ($10 million), but Greason figures that's a bargain considering that Lear jets can't fly high enough and the cheapest boosters start at $100 million.
Availability: Opened Sept. 2001
To Learn More: www.xcor.com