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"None of us, no matter what continent or island or ice cap, asked to be born in the first place, and that even somebody as old as I am, which is 80, only just got here."
- Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

JAL Shuttle  
  Shuttle capable of attaining low earth orbit.  

When this novel was written, I think that many people believed that this technology was relatively close. However, while passenger jets that attain these speeds are in development, it's also true that the fastest civilian airliner, the Concorde, was retired from active use this year.

However, in the future Earth of Neuromancer, just hop on board a Japan Air Lines shuttle. Nothing to worry about; they monitor your vital signs just as a matter of procedure.

"You've been up, haven't you?" Molly asked, as he squirmed his way back into the deep temperfoam couch on the JAL shuttle.

"Nah. Never travel much, just for biz." The steward was attaching readout trodes to his wrist and left ear.

He closed his eyes and told himself the shuttle was only a big airplane, one that flew very high. it smelled like and airplane, like new clothes and chewing gum and exhaustion. He listened to the piped koto music and waited.

Twenty minutes, then gravity came down on him like a great soft hand with bones of ancient stone.

From Neuromancer, by William Gibson.
Published by Phantasia Press in 1984
Additional resources -

So what do you need to get to LEO? A hardy sort of vehicle (able to deal with the heat of re-entry as well as the cold of space) and something that will push it to a velocity of about 7,800 meters per second tangent to the curve of the earth. For a great technical description, see Getting to Low Earth Orbit.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Neuromancer
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to Neuromancer
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

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