Does the history of two early pioneers of aviation offer an analogy for spaceflight?
First flight of Langley's aerodrome - one second after launch and one second before impact
During a recent talk to a gathering of students, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spoke of his longstanding interest in space by mentioning the dust-up over comments he made about a Moon colony during the GOP primary. He expanded this episode into a teaching moment about the nature of innovation and progress in space. Gingrich is vigorous in his enthusiasm for space exploration but is not a devotee of the current agency and its programs. In his considered opinion, we need to re-think our approach to space exploration and use more innovative, non-bureaucratic approaches to develop space systems and capabilities.
A historian by training, Gingrich often uses historical analogies to illustrate his point. On this occasion, he spoke of the experiences of the Wright Brothers and Samuel P. Langley in the development of the first airplane. As Gingrich relates it, after several failed attempts the Wright brothers finally achieved flight on December 17, 1903, spending in total about $500. In contrast, Langley (the recipient of a $50,000 government grant) failed in ...