In recent years, space travel has become almost ignorable. I don't know about you, but the last thing I remember hearing about was in September, when China sent three men to perform a spacewalk, and the news was mostly important due to people's worries about national supremacy. Most space missions have become blase, obscure science things that most people don't even notice. To be perfectly honest, I mostly don't care about those myself.
For me, the really thrilling part of space travel is that it might soon be available to normal people, not just goevernment appointees. Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic, the world's first spaceline, introduced the WhiteKnightTwo (originally named SpaceCraftTwo). Tickets cost $200,000 apiece, but more than 30,000 people have already purchased spots, and the first group will hopefully begin hurtling into space in 2010. This is exciting not only for being space tourism, but because of what it could mean for the future. If there is profit to be made developing private spacecraft, who knows how swiftly it could become possible to travel to or even settle on space stations or a terraformed Mars.
Many discussions of libertarianism end with someone saying, "Yeah, that would be awesome, but it's impossible to actually do that." Well, if space is the new frontier, as North America was in the past, it may be possible to actually achieve a libertarian society. The vastness of space would allow people to begin new governments, perhaps in a similar fashion to how the United States was formed, that could attempt to form a more lasting libertarian society. This idea has been speculated about in science fiction for decades, so I don't really want to go there, but it is exhilarating that we may get the chance to experiment for ourselves in the relatively near future.
Update: The first private space-port is now starting construction!