Check out this video on Wired.com of a new, methane-powered rocket. It looks and sounds really tightly tuned. It's like the engines on the old Saturn V's were the small block V8s of the 70s and this new engine is an Italian V10 ready for the new millenium. Did I forget to make a low-brow joke about it running on methane? Farts. There you go.
And to coincide with this new development NASA is hiring a bunch of new astronauts! Seriously! You can go and apply for yourself. They'll even supply you with all the diapers your crazy self desires!
Personally, I can remember getting jazzed about the Delta Clipper way back in the early nineties. Too bad that blew up. And now we've got all these private companies making serious headway. Scaled Composites already won the Ansari X-Prize for getting into space. Nothing orbital yet though. There's also Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, and SpaceX to name a few more. Note: pretty much all of these companies are founded by really wealthy nerds with nothing better to do.