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The History of the Aerospace Industry

No other industrial sector encapsulated so much of the twentieth century’s sociopolitical momentum as textile manufacturing. It influenced engineering schools, saw immense manufacturing complexes constructed, supported innovations in component technologies, created new forms of production and management systems and increased national governments’ power and prestige.

Aerospace companies produced aircraft, spacecraft and missiles at an incredible pace, dominating world governments while sparking dreams of flight around the globe. Furthermore, their presence reduced Earth’s effective size.

The Wright Brothers

The Wright brothers pioneered aviation and their success changed the world forever. Aviation led to space travel, satellites and rockets being developed; today aerospace industries act as an engine of global economic development and prosperity.

History of Aeronautics Industry shows how essential it is for innovations to be well-rounded (just like innovations around casino platforms listed onĀ, highlighting how different actors–inventors, academic institutions and governments–have played vital roles in its development. The Wright brothers’ story stands as an excellent example of this principle: innovation must have support from an array of actors for it to flourish and succeed.

The brothers first became interested in flight as children after receiving a toy helicopter, and reading accounts of Otto Lilienthal, a German glider pioneer who had died tragically during one of his demonstrations. They soon came to understand that flight required wings that generated lift, propulsion mechanisms for propelling through the air and control mechanisms to guide its path in flight.

After creating a wind tunnel – a box fitted with a fan designed to blow a steady stream of air over model wings mounted on balances in its center–they designed and tested various propellers and engines before creating their powered plane, measuring 40 feet (12 meters). They successfully launched it on May 3, 1903. While their success demonstrated that planes could fly, years would pass before any one else could master this art form.

The Wright brothers’ success with their aircraft spurred widespread interest in aeronautics, and many young men began studying aeronautical engineering. Some even attempted to duplicate it themselves; as a result, a community of early aeronautical enthusiasts was formed around them.

These men, along with others like George Washington Carver and Francis Wilbur, worked on the theory that a successful airplane could be designed using simple components easily produced. Thanks to their success, their work convinced government agencies to provide funding for aviation research.

International politics also played a critical role in the history of aerospace. Since aircraft in flight transcended national borders, nations established laws and airspace protocols. Furthermore, organizations such as INTELSAT were founded to standardize satellite operations – opening up possibilities for commercial space exploration.

American firms were the undisputed leaders in aerospace after World War II. Non-American firms struggled to compete with the immense investment American firms made into research and development (R&D). Russia gained access to highly competent Soviet design bureaus during the end of Cold War; since then it has developed its domestic aerospace industry significantly. Non-American firms are currently competing to capture more market share through partnerships; their goal being establishing human presence in orbital space for future generations of explorers.

World War I

As airplanes became more powerful, nations invested in research and facilities for training pilots as well as airports and airfields for transporting pilots and satellites for mapping earth’s surface. But World War I proved a catalyst for real growth within the aerospace industry.

Military aviation became the cornerstone of aircraft technology during World War I. Pilots battled each other in dogfights to shoot down enemy planes, with those who mastered superior technology gaining an advantage in dogfights. Aircraft designers developed new technologies for improved performance (like the Fokker Eindecker’s synchronized machine guns). Furthermore, sophisticated tactics were devised so as to use fewer planes at higher speeds while simultaneously increasing performance.

Aerospace firms consolidated to specialize in specific aircraft. As national champions such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Rockwell International expanded, European manufacturers such as Airbus or the Junkers consortium also became larger.

Aerospace companies benefited from the improved efficiency of aerospace firms to charge higher prices from customers, yet wartime economic boom brought its own set of pressures: America invested massive amounts into aerospace firms located throughout its sunbelt without seeing a commensurate increase in aircraft production – leaving enormous deficits which led the government to demand peace dividends and reduce defense procurement spending.

Still, the aerospace industry remained an expansive and highly profitable enterprise. American firms dominated military and civil transport aircraft production but only received approximately 10 percent of federal contracts; Congress worried about reduced procurement’s effect on defense industrial bases so channeled funds toward firms favored by Congress.

Instead of divesting or merging arbitrarily, firms focused on improving existing technologies or developing hybrids. General Electric transitioned away from turbine engines production towards electronic system production while established aircraft firms combined forces with specialist firms to offer integrated avionics systems; additionally, World War II spurred on the development of faster flying swept wings with larger fuselages to carry more electronic equipment.

War has hastened the development of strategic missiles and jet engines as well as navigation and control systems, spurring rapid innovation. As the United States drew closer to Soviet Russia during the Cold War, American aerospace firms became more centralized while government funds were channeled towards small technology-specific startups to develop guided missiles. These new management models drastically reshaped the aerospace industry. They established smaller factories specializing in intricate parts to exacting specifications quickly. Furthermore, these efforts resulted in research and development labs as well as engineering degrees specifically related to aerospace technology. These leaders recognized the necessity of collaboration in designing and testing complex systems. Sharing information through patent pools and cooperative design centers was vital in moving aerospace beyond its fragmented roots – and creating the global aerospace industry that would flourish over the course of this century and beyond.