I recently discussed Electromagnetic, EM Drives and the possibility of their wide spread use in the near future, needless to say he was skeptical.

Ruminating on the response made me think about the Wright brothers and the Wright Flyer.  Why did it succeed when so many others failed?

Academia had spent most of recorded history trying to achieve flight, governments had spent countless treasures to do the same.  Yet a pair of brothers in a bicycle shop were able to break the barrier of powered flight.

Ariel transport was available at the time, in truth it had been available for centuries.  With incremental refinements 18th century hot air balloons had evolved to early 20th century dirigibles.  Yet, powered flight had remained illusive.

20th century man was stuck with an expensive, slow and not entirely reliable method of air transportation, very much like 21st century man is stuck with chemical rockets to get into space.  The problems with today’s rocketry are the same as the ones experienced by lift assisted dirigibles and balloons.  They’re highly dependent on weather, have limited areas to launch from, are massively expensive per lbs to lift, massively expensive to build, hugely complicated to operate and maintain, slow.

Yet the technology to build the Wright Flyer had been available for over 30 years. Reliable internal combustion engines combined with a proper lifting surface and propeller.  Propellers had already been in use, why the configuration of a push propeller on a wing wasn’t utilized before the Wright Flyer will always be a mystery.

We have all the parts to get into space without all the messy expensive rocketry of the 19th century, now it’s a matter of recognizing and utilizing that technology.  It won’t be done by academics or huge government projects.  It’ll be done in some machine shop somewhere in some out of the way place where a few dare to dream big.