by Alex Nakahara
For many, balloons are an anachronism. In days where jets carry us across the country in hours and rockets carry people into orbit, balloons appear useless. I can sit at my desk and look at the Philadelphia Zoo Balloon, a mere amusement park ride for visitors, going slowly up and down all day, never going anywhere. At least their lighter-than-air fellows, the blimps, get to float above sporting events every weekend. Balloons are stuck as tourist attractions or the playthings of devoted hobbyists. However, balloons are enjoying a minor renaissance in an unexpected area: space.