The Lockheed Martin corporation recently conducted a poll in which they asked members of the public to choose the company’s “ultimate innovation.” There were a lot of fancy gizmos in the poll, including some very recent ones that definitely qualify as “innovations.” The Joint Strike Fighter, for example – a jet that can take off vertically and then fly at supersonic speed – is pretty damn cool. The SR-71 is almost mythic in the aerospace world. There were underwater robots and fighters that helped us win World War II.
But what won the poll, in the eyes of the public? What was the “ultimate innovation?”
A twenty-three-year-old clunker of a machine. A device that was once universally panned as myopic and wasteful.
The Hubble Space Telescope.
These high-profile space exploration missions simply soar in the public imagination. More than any other aerospace or engineering innovation, they capture people’s attention and fire their spirit.
Clearly, we need more of them.
Not only is it good policy…it’s just good public relations!