NASA has an undoubted ability to sell a story, and it has been making the most of the anthropomorphic appeal of this brave little $3 billion, 5 ton, plutonium-powered spacecraft on its two-decade mission. But the hype is not misplaced: Saturn has a key place in the evolving human understanding of the cosmos.
As you can guess from the title, The First Three Minutes tells the story of the moments following the Big Bang. The early universe sets the stage for the development of the cosmos we observe today, and the Cosmic Microwave Background is a key link between the distant past and the present day.
If you are trying to build a time machine, don't bother: even if we can design them, the universe makes it impossible for us (or anyone) to build them.
Balloon science is an often-neglected older cousin of rocket science and NASA's primary goal with this launch is to test a better balloon
But despite being commonplace, spaceflight is still far from routine. In fact, in the six decades since the Soviet Union started the space race, just eleven nations and the European Union have achieved indigenous launch capability, sending a locally developed rocket into orbit.