Most sectors requiring a relatively high upfront investment have started off as public, often military funded projects. A typical example is the development of the commercial aeronautical sector with some similarities but also important differences compared to the space sector. Starting with early flights in 1897 performed by Clement Adler (but kept secret due to military financing) the first flights that can be considered as a milestone in aviation took place in Kitty Hawk on 17 December 1903 by the Wright Brothers, also under a military contract, this time under the auspices of the US Signal Corps.
The First World War no doubt boosted the development of aircraft considerably under war conditions, reaching, for example, productions of more than 1000 DH-4 aircraft monthly in USA alone, with plans to double this production rate after 19181
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|This paper was first published as part of Space Commerce, The Inside Story, published by the Aerospace Technology Working Group (ATWG) and included on this site through the courtesy of ATWG, ISU and the individual authors.
Other extracts from this publication can be found here.