The Limitless Sky: Air Force Science and Technology Contributions to the Nation - GPS, Precision-Guided Munitions, Radar, Space, Missiles, Rocket Planes, Lifting Bodies, Satellites, Directed Energy
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this Air Force publication presents technological developments that have produced new capabilities or opened new ways for achieving objectives. More
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this Air Force publication presents technological developments that have produced new capabilities or opened new ways for achieving objectives.
The Limitless Sky: Air Force Science and Technology Contributions to the Nation * 1. Precision Timing, Location, Navigation: GPS and the Precision Revolution * 2. Tightening the Circle: Scientific Research and the Evolution and Revolution of Precision Guided Munitions * 3. Enlisting the Spectrum for Air Force Advantage: Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) * 4. From the Air: Taking Radar to New Heights * 5. Pilots in Extreme Environments: Enforcing U.S. Foreign Policy from the Edge of Space * 6. Exploiting the High Ground: The U.S. Air Force and the Space Environment * 7. Space Flight: Long-Range Missiles, Rocket Planes, and Lifting Bodies * 8. Military Satellite Communications: From Concept to Reality * 9. Directed Energy: The Wave of the Future
The old dream of mankind to fly and reach the sky—as exemplified by Daedalus and Icarus of ancient Greek lore—became a reality on December 17,1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and ushered in a period of unprecedented technological development. From Orville Wright's short flight a few feet off the ground, to the commercial airliners flying at 37,000feet, the limits of the sky have receded farther and farther away. In the second half of the twentieth century, powered flight extended to satellites orbiting the earth, to landings on the moon, and probes that explore our planetary system. The Hubble space telescope has been producing breathtaking pictures of distant galaxies not observable from terrestrial telescopes. The sky has become limitless.
The Air Force, from its very beginnings as the Army Air Corps, has contributed significantly to all aspects of powered flight that have not only enhanced the defense capabilities of the United States, but also produced a broad spectrum of non-military applications that have improved the quality of life throughout the world. Consequently, to celebrate the centennial of flight, a one-day symposium was held on September 17, 2003, in which the stories of some of the contributions, and of the people who made them, were told. Each paper is the result of a collaborative effort of historians, who have placed the contribution in its historical perspective; technologists, who have described the essence of the scientific or technological contribution; and Air Force senior officers, who have shared their personal experiences on how that technological development affected operations or missions.
The nine papers included in this volume were selected because of their diversity and because they illustrate clearly several key themes. First, it takes a long time from the onset of a new idea to the production of a useful product that enhances operations, something on the order of twenty years. One has to believe in the idea and stay the course, in the face of adversity, to obtain results. Consistent, steady funding is a must. Second, research results rarely lead to what was envisioned in the beginning as a relevant application. Indeed, research in atomic clocks enabled the Global Positioning System (GPS), but that was not the motivation for the research. Similarly, early research on lasers hardly anticipated the proliferation of commercial products or at-home entertainment via DVDs. Third, it usually takes a confluence of several disparate developments to produce a new capability. A vibrant, interacting scientific and engineering community is essential to achieve the breakthroughs that will continue to provide the nation with air supremacy.
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